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Information consists of processed data, the processing directed at increasing its usefulness. Like data, information represents the properties of objects and events, but it does so more compactly and usefully than data. The difference between data and information is functional, not structural.

Information is contained in descriptions, in answers to questions that begin with such words as who, what, where, when, and how many. It is usable in deciding what to do, not how to do it. Answers to how-to questions constitute knowledge.
-- definition from Russell L. Ackoff's works

Information as difference (Source: Bateson, G. (2000), Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, as shown at (accessed September 8, 2007)) --

    Organism plus environment
    What sort of a thing is this, which we call ""organism plus environment""?

    Let us go back to the original statement for which Korzybski is most famous - the statement that the map is not the territory... It all starts, I suppose, with the Pythagoreans versus their predecessors, and the argument took the shape of ""Do you ask what it's made of - earth, fire, water etc?"" Or do you ask, ""What is its pattern?"" (p.455)

    ""What is it in the territory that gets onto the map?"" We know the territory does not get onto the map. That is the central point about which we here are all agreed. Now, if the territory were uniform, nothing would get onto the map except its boundaries, which are the points at which it ceases to be uniform against some larger matrix. What gets onto the map, in fact, is difference, be it a difference in altitude, a difference in vegetation, a difference in population structure, difference in surface, or whatever. Differences are the things that get onto a map.

    A difference is a very peculiar and obscure concept. It is certainly not a thing or an event. This piece of paper is different than the wood of this lectern. There are many differences between them - of colour, texture, shape, etc... Of this infinitude, we select a very limited number which become information. In fact, what we mean by information - the elementary unit of information - is a difference which makes a difference (pp.457-459).