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Data is pieces of information stored in or represented by a computer. Data has different types, and is frequently used by programs to do work.

Consider the following code:

(in Ruby)

coding_school = {
  :name => "CodeUnion",
  :courses_offered => [:web_fundamentals_in_ruby,
  :years_in_operation => 1

(in JavaScript)

var coding_school = {
  "name": "CodeUnion",
  "courses_offered": ["web_fundamentals_in_ruby",
  "years_in_operation": 1

This data represents CodeUnion yet is not CodeUnion itself and does nothing on its own. Data requires a program or a person to interpret it and do work.

Different kinds of data are represented with different data types. This data set demonstrates four common data types:

A reasonable mental model is to think of data and information like kinetic and potential energy. Data is potential energy, waiting for the right program or person to make use of it. Information is kinetic energy, data put in motion to do work.