Digitization

Digitization, less commonly digitalization, is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format, in which the information is organized into bits. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or signal (usually an analog signal) by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of its points or samples. The result is called digital representation or, more specifically, a digital image, for the object, and digital form, for the signal. In modern practice, the digitized data is in the form of binary numbers, which facilitate computer processing and other operations, but, strictly speaking, digitizing simply means the conversion of analog source material into a numerical format; the decimal or any other number system that can be used instead.

A series of digital integers can be transformed into an analog output that approximates the original analog signal. Such a transformation is called a DA conversion. The sampling rate and the number of bits used to represent the integers combine to determine how close such an approximation to the analog signal a digitization will be.

Digitizing is the primary way of storing images in a form suitable for transmission and computer processing, whether scanned from two-dimensional analog originals or captured using an image sensor-equipped device such as a digital camera, tomographical instrument such as a CAT scanner, or acquiring precise dimensions from a real-world object, such as a car, using a 3D scanning device.

The handling of an analog signal becomes easy when it is digitized because the signal is digitized before modulation and transmission. The conversion process of analog to digital consists of two processes: sampling and quantizing.

Unpublished text documents on paper, which have some enduring historical or research value are being digitized by libraries and archives, though frequently at a much slower rate than for books (see digital libraries). In many cases, archives have replaced microfilming with digitization as a means of preserving and providing access to unique documents.

Nowadays, the growing pace of innovations in electronics drives to new solutions for energy and information transfer to enhance its speed, efficiency and reliability. For most devices, this solution is a transition from analog to digital. Possibly the most prominent example of such conversion is the modern digital computer. But the wires in all digital systems still remain analog. Digital wire becomes indispensable for providing efficient, robust, adaptable, and cost effective energy supply. Presently, no one knows, however, how it is supposed to work or what technology would be able to create such a device.

The prevalent Brittle Books issue facing libraries across the world is being addressed with a digital solution for long term book preservation. Since the mid-1800s, books were printed on wood-pulp paper, which turns acidic as it decays. Deterioration may advance to a point where a book is completely unusable. In theory, if these widely circulated titles are not treated with de-acidification processes, the materials upon those acid pages will be lost. As digital technology evolves, it is increasingly preferred as a method of preserving these materials, mainly because it can provide easier access points and significantly reduce the need for physical storage space.

Digital preservation is more complicated because technology changes so quickly that a format that was used to save something years ago may become obsolete, like a 5 1/4" floppy drive. Computers are no longer made with them, and obtaining the hardware to convert a file from an obsolete format to a newer one can be expensive. As a result, the upgrading process must take place every 2 to 5 years, or as newer technology becomes affordable, but before older technology becomes unobtainable. The Library of Congress provides numerous resources and tips for individuals looking to practice digitization and digital preservation for their personal collections.

Digitization can also be quite expensive. Institutions want the best image quality in digital copies so that when they are converted from one format to another over time only a high-quality copy is maintained. Smaller institutions may not be able to afford such equipment. Manpower at many facilities also limits how much material can be digitized. Archivists and librarians must have an idea of what their patrons wish to see most and try to prioritize and meet those needs digitally.

The broad use of internet and the increasing popularity of lean philosophy has also increased the use and meaning of "digitizing" to describe improvements in the efficiency of organizational processes. Lean philosophy refers to the approach which considers any use of time and resources, which does not lead directly to creating a product, as waste and therefore a target for elimination. This will often involve some kind of Lean process in order to simplify process activities, with the aim of implementing new "lean and mean" processes by digitizing data and activities. Digitization can help to eliminate time waste by introducing wider access to data, or by implementation of enterprise resource planning systems.

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