Definition of a Digital Image

Digitization is the process of transforming images, text, or sound from analog media (generally formats or objects that we can see or hear) into electronic data that we can save, organize, retrieve, and restore through electronic devices into perceptible surrogates of the original works.  Of the vast number of digital assets that are being created, still images, texts, motion pictures, and sound recordings predominate.  A digital image, then, is one that has been created through the process of digitization.
These guidelines address still digital images that are created through digital photography, scanning, or are acquired through a third party (e.g., via email attachment, purchase or license, downloading from the Web). Digital images are fundamentally different from their analog counterparts (prints, slides, negatives) because they reveal no meaning without the software and hardware that translate and render them as images.  As binary code, we cannot find or identify these digital images except through searchable terms (metadata) that we assign to them.  While these characteristics require us to alter how we approach browsing visual materials in digital form, digitization also brings with it the tremendous benefit of “random filing,” since we no longer have the worries that come with maintaining manual, physical files that are necessary for storing images in material form.