We discussed earlier, interesting connotations around how people try to unravel the mystery around social media. But over the years, while most have understood how social media is applied, many of us get stuck in trying to understand what is digital media. While some feel that digital media is a term synonymous with social media, others get easily confused when terms like digital technology come into play and this results in a series of more questions.
If you ask Google, Digital media (compared to analog media) is electronic media that works on digital codes. Today, computing is based on the binary numeral system, so the “digital” refers to the use of “0” and “1” to show data. Computers are machines that use binary digital data as information.
But this definition can add to your confusion if you’re already confused between social media and digital media.
Digital media are any media that are encoded in a machine-readable format. Digital media can be created, viewed, distributed, modified and preserved on computers. Computer programs and software; digital imagery, digital video; web pages and websites, including social media; data and databases; digital audio, such as mp3s; and e-books are examples of digital media. Digital media are frequently contrasted with print media, such as printed books, newspapers and magazines, and other traditional or analog media, such as pictures, film or audio tape.
Now, this sounds better. Let’s dig a little deeper before we go further.
Combined with the Internet and personal computing, digital media has caused disruption in publishing, journalism, entertainment, education, commerce and politics. Digital media has also posed new challenges to copyright and intellectual property laws, fostering an open content movement in which content creators voluntarily give up some or all of their legal rights to their work. The ubiquity of digital media and its effects on society suggest that we are at the start of a new era in industrial history, called the Information Age, perhaps leading to a paperless society in which all media are produced and consumed on computers.
Digital media has a significant, wide-ranging and complex impact on society and culture. If you look at it closely, most of modern social media uses digital media to take content from one part of the world to another. In the early days, it was intriguing for some to understand that the email you were sending to your neighbour was routed to a server located somewhere in North America or Europe before findings its way to the intended destination. Today the same might be true even for your text message sent via WhatsApp or WeChat.
But digital media encompasses more than simply social media. It will include a website that talks about your business, or a blog where you can engage with your customers or audience. It will also include advertising and billboards that may be on the internet, or digital displays in coffee shops, railway stations or airports.
When you make calls to an IVR (interactive voice response) system to enquire about your mobile phone’s bill plan, you use digital media. A computer generated voice system tells you about new offers and how they can benefit you. A kiosk at the local train station, where you purchase tickets using an interactive screen is digital media. When you punch in the address into your car’s GPS unit, and it tells you the time to destination, you have used digital media.
Simply put, when you interact with a computer system that dynamically creates a response or transmits information for you, by converting it into a signal comprising of 0s and 1s, you are using digital media. Universally, digital media is being used to transport textual, audio and visual content across networks. However, recent applications involving the use of 3D printers, holographic imagery, and various new input and output devices, are allowing us to create new forms of innovation in digital design and digital application, previously unseen.
Digital media is revolutionising the way we communicate, interact, work, earn, spend and relax in life. The transition of traditional forms of media is just the beginning of what is yet to come.