Monday, July 02, 2007

Digitization vs. Digitalization

During the spring, I had a couple students who used the term "digitalization." I'd heard people use the term before instead of "digitization" and decide to finally look it up. According to the dictionary, "digitalization" is defined as "the administration of digitalis for the treatment of certain heart disorders ." It can also mean "to digitize," although the prevailing term for digitizing is "digitization." So...I told my students about the differences in the word. I've also added that information to my workshops.

Recently I have been using the new version of Ask.com and decided to see what appeared when I searched for "digitization." Lo and behold, one of the expanded search terms to use is "digitalization" and if you search that term, you do find many hits. At least one, talks about how digitalization should not be used. Some seem to be sites that include "digitalization" in their metadata, knowing that some people will search using that word instead of "digitization."

With this information in hand, now I'll need to change my tune. Yes, "digitalization" does relate to the word digitalis and can mean "to digitize." It is more correct (and less ambiguous) to use the word "digitization." However, if you are placing something on the Internet about digitization, you may want to also add "digitalization" to your metadata (as well as digitisation and digitalisation) to increase its findability.


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16 comments:

Manue said...

Thanks for this explanation ! It is very difficult for us, non-native english speakers, to know exactly who we can trust with the use of these words. I used to think it was a US vs. UK difference (having seen "digitalisation" in UK documents).

Sharon said...

Just my opinion, but I think that adding a "digitalization" tag would just be promulgating the incorrect usage. I can certainly go along with "digitisation," because there is already an established family of similar words that differ in American English and British English spelling.

In the software engineering world, I often read or heard people use the word "orientated," as in "object orientated design." The correct word is "oriented." The extra syllable is not required, and I'm not entirely sure why anyone thinks it is. But if I start using it, too, I just see that as giving in to bad usage.

Terry B said...

Thanks for this explanation. It saves me a minor embarrassment and gives me an opportunity to correct a statement that will have a long life on our intranet. BTW, this was the first google hit when searching for 'digitization digitalization'. Much appreciated,

Anonymous said...

I would have thought digitization describes what happens to the an analog signal but digitalization is the process of turning a system into one that runs digitally.

Rafiq said...

Is there any other source of information on this issue?

Andres said...

I believe "digitalization" can be a sort of cross-contamination from Spanish, where "digitalización" would be the correct term to use and where "digitization" sound awfully similar to a word we would use for "typing". I just realized I've been using the wrong word forever, and nobody ever mentioned it before! that's the problem with this latin roots... sometimes they can be misleading!

Anonymous said...

You do realize that people actually write dictionaries, don't you? That it's a job that people work at, do research for, find evidence in, and so on. Elves don't dig dictionaries perfectly formed out of dictionary mines. The people who write the books you seem to regard as perfect, infallible authorities will find out what 'digitalization' means by studying its actual usage. It happens that the short form predominates worldwide by a factor of several; but both are used, and both mean the same thing; and if your dictionary doesn't tell you that, it's out of date, and the omission will eventually be fixed.

Anonymous said...

Technically, digitalizing is more accurate. A "digit" is a number used in math or science; while "digital" in this sense refers to a data technology system of discrete discontinuous values. The suffix -ize can be added to almost any noun or adjective to create a verb. The -ize means "cause to be." When music or images (for example) are converted to a "digital" system, they are "caused to become" digital, and therefore they are digitalized, not digitized. However, popular American usage appears to favor the word digitized, and both have become acceptable in American English.

Saeid Kazemi said...

I am working with "computer sciences" and "dentistry". I think the thing I am doing might be called "digitized dentistry". Previously "dental informatics" and "computerized dentistry" are also used in the field. Do you think it is better to call it "Digitized" or "Digitalized" Dentistry?

Please comment to ksaeid@yahoo.com

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Here is a related blog post on this topic.

Treehouse said...

We are a team of four fourth year students of the training Communication and Multimedia Design. The team exists of four students from the Netherlands and we like to start a conversation about digitalization on are facebook please join us on..

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001983376787

Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

In GIS terms, i think digitization is conversion of raster data to vector data where as digitalization is conversion of paper/analog data to raster/digital form.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys are missing the big picture, the reason being many of you don't have any background on Latin which is the mother of all these terms. Somebody saying digitalizing is applied only related to the context of medical administration of digitalis purpurea whic just happens to be the latin name for the substance. Etymology of Digital is from Latin digitalis, derived from digitus (finger). Having to do with digits, i.e. performed with a finger and related to the property of representing values as discrete numbers. So it is perfectly valid to add -ize after it. We follow that rule in Spanish as it is directly derived from Latin.

Anonymous said...

This post is very clear as well:
http://blogs.gartner.com/mark_mcdonald/2012/04/09/digitalization-creates-new-dimensions-for-disruption/

Also see:
http://www.hindustantimes.com/technology/IndustryTrends/Govt-s-TV-digitalization-campaign-on-social-media/SP-Article1-804092.aspx

Lalit Jairath

Anonymous said...

In my readings of professional and academic literature, I have most often seen "digitalize" used to reflect moving *processes* to a digital environment (e.g., having people register online instead of on a paper form, having web meetings instead of face-to-face meetings, having an interactive wiki instead of a printed procedures manual, etc.) versus "digitization" which is the actual act of converting something analog to a digital format. In other words, the digitalization of a business may include digitization (converting something that has already been created), but not necessarily. And digitization of books doesn't mean you are digitalizing your entire way of office administration.

The OED doesn't really specify this in its 2nd definition of the word "digitalize," but that is how I distinguish the usage when I read it. Merriam-Webster's dictionary hasn't caught up to this new terminology.

My comments are based in American English usage... I do notice more British usage of the word "digitalize" where I would use "digitize."

Anonymous said...

References:

"digitalization, n.2". OED Online. March 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/view/Entry/242061 (accessed May 22, 2013).

"digitization, n.". OED Online. March 2013. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/view/Entry/240886?redirectedFrom=digitization (accessed May 22, 2013).