Digitization is a concept that is becoming more and more topical, but it is nevertheless accompanied by a lot of misunderstanding and erroneous beliefs. One misconception is that digitization is just about knowing the basics of computers; another is that it is just an internet connection and 5G. However, digitalization is a part of our daily lives. Perhaps, we should even go as far as to say that part of our daily lives is the successful navigation of digital transformation.
We are woken up in the morning by a radio alarm clock or our phone’s alarm; we use navigation when taking an unknown route and make hands-free calls while driving. When we run out of fuel, we stop at the gas station, fill up the tank, order coffee, and pay for everything with a contactless card or mobile phone.
These days, getting through to the doctor’s office by phone is practically impossible, especially in a time when the health care system is overloaded battling COVID-19; so, we contact our doctor via e-mail and attach a photo to the message which represents our health condition.
If we get sick, we stay at home, but that doesn’t mean that life’s necessities are unavailable. Instead, we can order them online, and it is not even necessary to order everything we need from a store; we can also order them from a local food producer. If a child becomes quarantined due to a COVID-19 infection in the classroom, teaching takes place via correspondence or internet.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we found that we were able to save ourselves many commutes and time. Meetings can be managed remotely with the use of online platforms; we can virtually participate in conferences, and we can even visit a museum. Information from the other side of the world is available to us just a few minutes later. From the safe environment of our home, we have an insight into almost the entire world. By doing so, we are also exposed to fake news, not only from the immediate area but from around the world, which requires even more critical consideration than reading a daily newspaper that has editors.
Indeed, digitalization and all new technologies cannot replace genuine human contact, but it is also true that we can no longer avoid them today. And if we can’t avoid them, it’s only fitting to use them to our advantage.
As already mentioned, we encounter digitalization every day, even several times a day. Nevertheless, many people still have fears about new technology, which also raises new questions. In how many professions are we involved today that will no longer be needed in a few years? And what are we going to do then? Will we be able to adapt and keep up with the times?
Some of these challenges raise justifiable concerns. But since turning a blind eye has never brought anything good in the long run, we decided to lift the veil.
In the articles within the project Following the path of digitalization, to be carried out as a joint project between the Anton Korošec Institute and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, we will strive to show the connection between digitalization, everyday life, freedom, democracy, and the world after COVID-19.
We will also address issues related to the protection of personal data, the impact of digitalization and new technologies on rural development, businesses, social services, education, health, and other spheres of human life.
We will address questions as to what actually belongs to basic digital literacy and check what efforts are being made in Slovenia and at the European level to preserve humanity within all this new technology and what measures are being taken to ensure that we are all included.
For starters: digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation
The term digitalization is often used too broadly, and it is often used interchangeably with the term digitization, which is the process of converting information into a digital, computer-readable format. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document, or signal (usually an analogue signal) into a series of binary numbers that a computer can understand. A photo, video, or other material is transformed into a combination of ones and zeros (binary numbers) that make it easier to process with digital computers and use in other operations.
Digitization is also the transcription of handwritten text into computer format and the transfer of a video from an old VHS tape to a computer. It is crucial for data processing, storage, and transmission. It is also easier to share and access digital data from different locations – but this sharing and access is already digitization.
Digitalization is the acceptance or increase in the use of digital technology by organizations, industries, countries, etc. It is the use of data obtained by digitization to simplify or upgrade everyday processes.
The result of all this, i.e., the introduction of innovative strategies and new technologies that improve our experience (consumers), is the digital transformation of the economy, public administration, health, justice, agriculture, education, and other areas.
And it is to this latter term that we will pay the most attention to in our articles.
Author: Suzana Lara Krause
Keywords: digitization, digitalization, digital transformation, COVID-19
This article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the European Parliament.
The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information contained therein.