Digitization is defined as the action or process of digitizing that is the conversion of analog data into digital data. It is the material process that involves the conversion of individual streams of analog information and/or data into digital information (Jähne 211). This is referred to by scholars in different as the technical process of converting analog streams of information into digital bits of binary information comprising of 1s and 0s with values that are both discrete and discontinuous. As a process, digitization has ten (10) key characteristics (Jähne 211). However, only of a few (4) these characteristics are as discussed below.
Figure 1: The Process of Digitization.
Characteristics of Digitization
- Digital Footprint
This refers to the unique digital activities, actions, and communications. These leave a traceable data on any digital device and can be used for the identification of the user or the device used (Tubrazy 85). For instance, by logging into social sites such as Facebook, one encounters advertisements, people you may know, and their locations. Therefore, Facebook tracks your location, visited sites, friends tagged, and general activity history.
- Timeless Time
This is defined by Manuel Castells as social practices targeted toward negating sequence to install ourselves in perennial simultaneity and simultaneous ubiquity. Using Facebook as an example, it involves posts from the past (#throwbackthursday). These negate timeless time through the negation of the sequence. It promotes communication in real-time, speedup or slows down communication as people may avoid the messages sent or takes time to respond to the messages and permits asynchronous communication.
- Death of Distance
This refers to when the distance becomes less important or not important in the digital world. It involves having access to a global network of human connections, enabling communication with people around the world, and access to information from anywhere in the world (Howard). This can be seen by the presentation by Jennifer Siegal of Rice School of Architecture in the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mVRv0OCSuM. With the death of distance, the geographical distance does not affect the traveling of information and speeds up the communication process. Friendships can be forged or maintained regardless of the distance.
Polydirectionality refers to the different people and channels of communication that can be employed in the digital platform. This is communication that mainly takes place through the Internet and World Wide Web. Poly directional communication is where many-to-many communication can take place (Fuchs 240). Poly directional communication takes place where one can send a message to a group of people or when, for instance, on social media multiple individuals like your post or comment. Polydirectionality allows the voice of an individual to heard by a larger population and provides multiple choices for communication media and means of interaction. However, it has the risk of reducing intimacy in social relationships as face-to-face communication is eliminated. On the other hand, it promotes comfortability while communicating through the chosen media. Due to polydirectionality one can also in the digital world allows the section of the most appropriate media and channel of communication.
From the four characteristics discussed above, it is evident that while digitization has its downsides, for the major part it has brought significant transformation in communication. It has on the major part eased communication and interaction. However, there is still controversy regarding the element of data footprint as presented in the lecture videos as the controllers of the digitized platforms retain the authority to use the digital footprint information in whatever way they feel.
Fuchs, Christian. “Competition and Cooperation in Online Politics.” Fuchs, Christian. Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007. 200-335.
Howard, Philip N. “Cultural Industries in a Digital Century.” Howard, Philip N. Castells and the Media: Theory and media. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
Jähne, Bernd. Digital Image Processing. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
Siegal, Jennifer. Mobile Design: The Death of Distance. 28 April 2010. Jennifer Siegal. 6 November 2016 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mVRv0OCSuM>.
Tubrazy, Shahid Jamal. “Trail of Digital Footprint and Backup Data.” Tubrazy, Shahid Jamal . The Discovery of Digital Evidence and Forensic Laws (Theories and Practices). Lulu.com, 2012. 73-88.