Thoughts On Digitization

After learning about digitization, I realized that there are a few downfalls of digitization. I have more perspectives to view digitization now.

First, I find digitization can not capture all what you see and feel on print. There are many reasons such as pixels and just intrinsic disadvantages of some technologies. It is easier to catch the image and color but as for other aspects, digitization has space to improve. For example, you can’t feel the texture, you don’t know the actual size or even you don’t know the actual colors by just using cameras or scanners. There is “margin of error”.

Second, I think pictures make most sense of digitaization for the present. With current technologies, pixels and colors are easier problems to solve compared with other matter such as texture and size. You can use high resolution cameras to make images clearer and colors are easy to be adjusted to match what you see with naked eyes. Videos can partially solve some problems pictures have but videos need larger space to be preserved and only some people have ability to make good videos.

Third, working with digitized representations definitely impacts our understanding different kinds of items but the extent depends on what your items are and for what purpose you use them. For example, as a historian, digitized texts and images are so helpful because it saves a lot of time and trips on archive work. But this helpfulness is based on the fact that my research only needs facts instead of nuances. Historians of art definitely have higher standard and requirement for the quality of these images, like the pictures in “Building Meaning in Digitized Photographs” shows. The nuances in these images impacts our understanding of the items we see. This is only one example among many of the differences that digitized things and the things on print have on our understanding of the items. So, it is really a matter about what you expect to gain from digitized things.

There are other “margins of error” in digitized things that impact our ability to use it. For example, the technological limitation might make us to miss the some best part of the item by its “understatement” shown in color, texture and size. Or the selection of librarians and archivists for digitized things limits our access to some other work. We can’t see these works from afar because they are not digitized. These factors, among others, can impact our ability to use digital humanities.


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