The data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy seemed like a really great idea when it was first proposed. But its rapid acceptance was in fact a sign of how worried we were about the real value of the information systems we had built at such great expense. What looks like a logical progression is actually a desperate cry for help.
The DIKW hierarchy (as it came to be known) was brought to prominence by Russell Ackoff in his address accepting the presidency of the International Society for General Systems Research in 1989. But the actual first recorded instance of it was in 1934:
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in the information?
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