Digital Technology: Capabilities and Limitations

Digital Technology: Capabilities and Limitations

Philip A. Houle (Drake University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-877-3.ch001
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


Digital technologies are at the heart of all modern communication and information systems. The technologies have evolved from expensive component devices to current inexpensive systems used by everyone. This chapter examines digital technology in terms of its capabilities and limitations. It attempts to answer the following questions: What is digital technology? How does digital technology represent characters, symbols, and language? How does digital technology represent sound, images, and video? How does digital technology store and transmit these types of information? Finally, this chapter explores limitations of digital technology.
Chapter Preview

Representing Information

Each of us gets information through the use of our five basic senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste. First-hand information comes from what each of us personally experiences via these basic senses. Each of us interacts with humans via these same senses, which allows us to obtain information from others. We do this using images and language. Language can be spoken or it may be written alphabetic representations of the words used in the language.

Memory allows each of us to retain information obtained from experience and from others. Memory is part of the human experience. However, memory also exists when pictures, symbols and alphabetic representations are placed where they persist through time. For example, pictures can be draw in the sand or painted on a canvas. Memory allows us to retrieve information that relates to events that have occurred the past.

In this chapter we will focus primarily on information represented by language and images. This means we are primarily interested in the senses of sight and hearing. As we shall see, the use of digital representations is almost entirely limited to these two senses.

In the following sections we start with an examination of natural systems and representations of information in these systems. We then examine the nature of digital systems and representations. Then we look at how these ideas are applied to represent sound, images, and languages.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: