The knowledge pyramid: A critique of the DIKW hierarchy

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176 Scopus citations


The paper evaluates the datag-informationg-knowledgeg-wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy. This hierarchy, also known as the 'knowledge hierarchy', is part of the canon of information science and management. Arguments are offered that the hierarchy is unsound and methodologically undesirable. The paper identifies a central logical error that DIKW makes. The paper also identifies the dated and unsatisfactory philosophical positions of operationalism and inductivism as the philosophical backdrop to the hierarchy. The paper concludes with a sketch of some positive theories, of value to information science, on the nature of the components of the hierarchy: that data is anything recordable in a semantically and pragmatically sound way, that information is what is known in other literature as 'weak knowledge', that knowledge also is 'weak knowledge' and that wisdom is the possession and use, if required, of wide practical knowledge, by an agent who appreciates the fallible nature of that knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Information Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Data
  • Information
  • Knowledge
  • The DIKW hierarchy
  • The knowledge hierarchy
  • The knowledge pyramid
  • Wisdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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