Friday, June 18, 2010
An important distinction between "digital distribution" and "digital information" underpins the approach of the Center for Digital Information. Digital distribution is characterized by transmitting material via new media in forms borrowed from a pre-digital era: reports, white papers, articles, issue briefs, fact sheets, and press releases; distributed as static text and PDFs. Digital information is distinguished by communicating natively in new media, using the unique interactive capabilities of the technology.
Today, the policy research field — a vital multi-billion-dollar enterprise to inform policy debates and public understanding — engages almost exclusively in "digital distribution" as it has for the first fifteen years of widespread use of the Internet. A study commissioned by CDI found that 98% of data posted online by the twenty biggest policy research organizations consisted of a text summary with a link to "download the complete report" in static PDF form. Only 2% used any interactive features made possible by the technology.
This distinction is shown below with a list of the characteristics, modes and platforms that define each.
Using old print-based modes to distribute via digital media
98% of policy research posted online
Defined entry point
The ubiquitous PDF
"Click here to download"
Using interactive modes to communicate natively in digital media
Only 2% of policy research posted online
Multiple entry point
Interactive information graphics
Rich Internet applications
Integrated audio and video