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Information Literacy: Information

This guide will explain how information is classified.

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What is Information?

Information comes in many formats, from digital files, words in books, videos and audio downloads, interviews, and from concrete objects. In the broadest sense, information is anything that you take in using your 5 senses.

To help make sense of all this information, you can divide it in different ways. The following categories can help to classify what comes at you every day:

Analytical: this is how people use (analyze) raw facts. The U.S. Census might ask “how many pets do you have?”  Statistical analysis comes up with an answer like “the average American family has 2.3 pets.”  We know that people will have both fewer and more pets (It’s unlikely that they have 2.3 dogs). But the analysis is based on facts. Students are often required to provide statistics to back up their statements in research papers or speeches.

Fact: this is something that can be proven, like 1 + 1 = 2, or that the earth is not flat. Facts stay the same and can be re-proven over and over.

Opinion: This is based on how someone feels. When 4 people go out for dinner, and one says the chicken dish is best, another may like the steak. You are getting information, but it is based on a person’s opinion, not on unchanging and provable facts.

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