1.5 The Wisdom Level of the DIKW Pyramid

Topic Summary

We reach the pinnacle of the DIKW Pyramid: the Wisdom Level. This level involves applying the knowledge we’ve formed out of the information that our data provided to us. In this topic, we embrace that wisdom involves even more of our humanity than the levels below it. Our goals and priorities factor in, as do important principles of values and ethics. Just because we use data, it doesn’t mean every decision will be obvious or straightforward.

Key Points to Remember

Wisdom is “where the rubber hits the road” and all of our work with data culminates in better decisions and actions.

  1. Wisdom involves applying our knowledge to the making of right decisions
  2. Applying sound principles of data ethics means we seek to avoid doing harm with data
  3. Since many situations are complex and involve competing priorities and conflicting data, the best decisions are data-informed rather than data-driven.


  • wisdom, noun – a wise attitude, belief, or course of action; good sense or judgement
  • data ethics, noun – systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct in relation to data, in particular personal data


1.5 The Wisdom Level of the DIKW Pyramid | Data Literacy

The Wisdom Level of the DIKW Pyramid


Exercise 1.5. Returning to the example you’ve been developing in the previous exercises in this chapter, see if you can think of an unwise course of action and a wise course of action that would stem from application of the knowledge you have gleaned thus far.

  • A wise course of action to take:
  • An unwise course of action to avoid:


“Learning is a matter of gathering knowledge. Wisdom is applying that knowledge.”

Dr. Roopleen

“We learn knowledge; we cannot learn wisdom. Wisdom arises through the assimilation of suffering. Suffering assimilated enlarges the personality, brings amplitude to the soul.”

James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul

Further Reading

  • DataPractics.org – a manifesto you can read and sign that lists 4 principles and 12 values of ethical data teamwork