Definition[edit | edit source]
Digital information is
|“||data stored on computers and in other digital media (e.g., magnetic or optical discs).||”|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Digital information is not just words and numbers. Anything that can be seen or heard can be digitized, so databases can include music, motion pictures, or photographs of art works. Some databases consist primarily of images. Mixed media or multimedia works are those that package together information in the form of images, sound, and/or text.
The salient aspects of digital information are the following:
- Reproducible. Unlike a physical book or photograph or analog audio recording, a digital information object can be copied infinitely many times, often without losing any fidelity or quality.
- Easily shared. Because information is easily copied, it is also easy to distribute at low cost. Digital information can be shared more easily than any type of analog information in the past. In the physical world, broadcasting information to groups has serious costs and hence requires a certain wherewithal and commitment. Technologies such as e-mail and websites allow broadcasting to many people at the touch of a single button.
- Flexible. A variety of different types of information can be represented digitally: images, movies, text, sound. Digital information can even be used to control movement in the physical world through digitally-controlled actuators.
- Easily modified. Digital representations of information can be easily manipulated. It is trivial to modify an image — say, changing hair color from blond to red, adding a few notes to a musical composition, or deleting and adding text to a document. So, for example, a naked body can be affixed to a head of a child, words modified from their original intent and music "borrowed" freely, and even virtual "people" created, all without leaving a visible trace of these manipulations.
- Difficult to intercept. Because no physical object is necessarily associated with a digital information object, interdiction of digital information is much more difficult than interdiction of a physical object carrying information. In other words, there is no book, no magazine, no photo that can be intercepted by physical means.