Science & Technology in Action

9th Edition

The Digital Universe


This lesson discusses the difference between ‘data’ and ‘information’ and describes how an analogue entity is digitised. The function of the microprocessor is discussed along with the meaning of terms such as machine language’. This leads to the topic of computer programming.
Download Lesson Kit

Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

The world of information
These days we take information for granted. We can find out about almost anything that interests us by logging onto the internet. To do so we use our computer, phone or other device that is capable of handling digital technology. The advent of the printing press in the 15th century had a dramatic effect on our civilisation. It allowed information to be distributed to large numbers of people and also provided a means for that information to be stored. However, its impact was relatively small compared to that of digital technology.

In this lesson, we look at the meaning of the term ‘digital’ as used in the computer and information industries. We also discuss programming and clarify some of the terminology involved.

Is data the same as information?
The terms data and information are often used interchangeably in everyday speech. This is acceptable, but for engineers and scientists these terms can carry specific meanings. A simple way of looking at it is to view ‘data’ as measures, numbers or variables, while information is the process of making some useful sense of the data. For example, an Excel table of student scores presents data. This could then be analysed to produce useful information about a student’s progress. All the web sites, blogs or tweets you consult provide you with information, but they are stored in computer memories as data.

To read the full lesson, download the pdf above.

True or False?

  1. There are one thousand bytes in a megabyte. false
  2. Data in computers is stored digitally. true
  3. Digitised voice is based on samples of the analogue wave form. true
  4. A binary number is a series of binary digits or bits. true
  5. Data analytics is a developing field of expertise. true
  6. Most of the data produced these days is structured. false
  7. The CPU only recognises high level languages. false
  8. ASCII means Australian Standard Code for Information. true
  9. Interpreters and compilers turn high level languages into machine language. true
  10. A group of six bits is called a byte. false
  11. A gigabyte is bigger than a terabyte. false
  12. There is a video link titled The Human Face of Big Data on the EMC website. true

Glossary of terms

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
assembly language
BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code),
big data
binary number