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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Question Gathering Information

    Hey guys,

    I work for a small zoo on the south-east coast of Queensland in Australia.

    Before I make the big step into developing a database, I would like to know what useful information I could retrieve that would benefit my company. Other database developing companies have only shown me the data that I can retrieve. Im after information, not data.

    Thanks in advance, Elliot.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    As the textbooks say, data is 'raw facts' while information is 'processed or interpreted data'. More formally, we can say that data is recorded facts, while information is what can be derived from the data. In general, the information that can be derived from a well-designed database is either infinite or so large as to defy easy quantification. That's not to say anything at all can be derived, since we have to follow logical rules of deduction in order to make sound derivations.

    It's the job of data analysts to analyze a company's information requirements and design a suitable database schema to fulfill that need. The task of the database isn't to record all possible information - it wouldn't be cost-effective, even if it were possible. Rather, by recording a suitably finite set of data, we enable the derivation of large amounts of information. However, that derivation isn't automatic in most database systems. It requires at least a well-crafted query, and for more complex situations, additional processing of the result, to produce end-user-quality information.

    I'm unable to tell you what useful information you can retrieve that would benefit your company, in the same way I'm unable to tell you what useful destinations you can reach with a car. In general, any information logically implied by your data should be derivable. The topics we discuss in here focus on understanding information requirements and how to design schema to satisfy those needs.

    Some alternative topics related to your post: the field of deductive databases is interesting, but is mostly still in the research stage, AFAIK. Data mining is a more popular field with commercial providers. Regardless, proper database design remains essential to these fields.

    I hope that provides some perspective.

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