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Digitization is

the process of taking continuous signals (the analog domain) and changing them into discrete signals (the digital domain).[1]


Digitization means that all of the formerly distinct content types are reduced to a stream of binary ones and zeroes, which can be carried by any delivery platform. In practical terms, this means not only that specific boundaries — between a telephone network and a cable system, for example — are blurred, but also that the very exercise of drawing any such boundaries must be fundamentally reconsidered or abandoned.

With digitalization all of the media become translatable into each other — computer bits migrate merrily — and they escape from their traditional means of transmission. A movie, phone call, letter, or magazine article may be sent digitally via phone line, coaxial cable, fiberoptic cable, microwave, satellite, the broadcast air, or a physical storage medium such as tape or disk. . . .[2]

Digitization includes: selection, assessment, prioritization, project management and tracking, preparation of originals for digitization, metadata collection and creation, digitizing, quality management, data collection and management, submission of digital resources to delivery systems and into a repository environment, and assessment and evaluation of the digitization effort. To avoid digitized materials becoming obsolete, they must be digitized at the highest quality, migrated to the latest storage and formats, and maintain the links to the descriptive information that makes digital assets meaningful.


  1. ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation, at 10.
  2. Stewart Brand, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT 19 (1988).