Digital media means any communication media that operate with the use of any of various encoded machine-readable data formats. Digital media can be created, viewed, distributed, modified, listened to, and preserved on a digital electronics device. Digital can be defined as any data represented by a series of digits, while media refers to methods of broadcasting or communicating these information. Together, digital media refers to mediums of digitized information broadcast to us through a screen and/or a speaker. This also includes text, audio, video, and graphics that are transmitted over the internet for viewing or listening to on the internet.
Examples of digital media include software, digital images, digital video, video games, web pages and websites, social media, digital data and databases, digital audio such as MP3, electronic documents and electronic books. Digital media often contrasts with print media, such as printed books, newspapers and magazines, and other traditional or analog media, such as photographic film, audio tapes or video tapes.
Digital media has had a significantly broad and complex impact on society and culture. Combined with the Internet and personal computing, digital media has caused disruptive innovation in publishing, journalism, public relations, 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. However, challenges to a digital transition remain, including outdated copyright laws, censorship, the digital divide, and the spectre of a digital dark age, in which older media becomes inaccessible to new or upgraded information systems. Digital media has a significant, wide-ranging and complex impact on society and culture.
Codes and information by machines were first conceptualized by Charles Babbage in the early 1800s. Babbage imagined that these codes would give him instructions for his Motor of Difference and Analytical Engine, machines that Babbage had designed to solve the problem of error in calculations. Between 1822 and 1823, Ada Lovelace, mathematics, wrote the first instructions for calculating numbers on Babbage engines. Lovelace’s instructions are now believed to be the first computer program. Although the machines were designed to perform analysis tasks, Lovelace anticipated the possible social impact of computers and programming, writing. “For in the distribution and combination of truths and formulas of analysis, which may become easier and more quickly subjected to the mechanical combinations of the engine, the relationships and the nature of many subjects in which science necessarily relates in new subjects, and more deeply researched […] there are in all extensions of human power or additions to human knowledge, various collateral influences, in addition to the primary and primary object reached.” Other old machine readable media include instructions for pianolas and weaving machines.
It is estimated that in the year 1986 less than 1% of the world’s media storage capacity was digital and in 2007 it was already 94%. The year 2002 is assumed to be the year when human kind was able to store more information in digital than in analog media (the “beginning of the digital age“).