What is Digital Media?

Posted By BrokenClaw on March 1, 2008

Digital media refers to any type of media — words, pictures, audio, or video — which is stored on a computer, digital device, or optical media. As discussed in the article, Digital Bits and Bytes, everything on a computer is stored as a series of numeric bits. In other words, to the computer, there is no difference between an audio recording and a database of insurance accounts.

The term digital media can also apply to the physical pieces of equipment that store digital data, including hard drives, optical discs, and flash memory cards.

The opposite of digital media is analog media, which is everything that came before, from stone carvings, written documents, artwork, and books to photographs, vinyl records, film, and magnetic audio and video tape.

The two main advantages of digital media over analog media are:

  1. exact copies can be easily created, transferred, and transmitted as often as you want, such as sending a photo in email to all your friends, or putting a podcast on your portable player, or burning your home videos to a DVD.
  2. as digital data, the media can be manipulated mathematically and reversibly, such as adjusting the color tone of a photograph or changing the pitch of a song. And of course we’re all familiar with fake photos that are easily produced on a home computer.

Since digital media is transmitted and received as bits, the copies are not subject to the normal degradation like analog media. For example, there is no static in a digital broadcast. There are no scratches on a digital recording. The colors don’t fade on a digital photo. We’ve all seen bad photocopies of photocopies of forms at work, or cartoons or jokes that get passed around. With a digital document, no matter how many times you print it, or transfer it to a different computer, it always stays as good as the first copy.

Read how to convert to digital media.

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