Digitisation: A glossary of terms

This simple glossary has been developed to explain some of the terms you may encounter when undertaking digital projects.

At the end of the page, you will find links to other glossaries of digital terms that are used by museums.

Blog An online journal or website that is frequently updated, and often includes or invites contributions from readers or subscribers (originally ‘web log’).
Born-digital Content is ‘born-digital’ when it was created in a digital format, rather than being created in a physical form and being converted into electronic information.
BYOD Stands for ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and refers to the trend for museum visitors to bring their own handheld and tablet devices with them in order to access and use the museum’s content during a visit or tour.
Cloud Things are referred to as ‘cloud-based’ if the electronic information is stored in and retrieved from a shared storage provider. The ‘cloud’ is like an offsite collections store that you share with other people.
Collections management The practices and procedures implemented by a museum in acquiring, documenting, handling, accessing, storing, securing, lending, conserving and disposing of collection items.
Collections Management System The system that a museum has in place to record.
Content Stories and pictures in digital format.
Data Information stored and transmitted in an electronic format.
Digital Although it is widely used, the term ‘digital’ is often not well-defined. Generally, it refers to the use of technology (computers, IT equipment, tablets, mobile devices, audio visual equipment) to support some area of museum work.
Digital assets Digital materials created or owned by your institution. See also the section on ‘Digital Asset Management’.
Digital Asset Management The process of creating, storing, retrieving and making digital assets available for use.
Digital Asset Management System Also referred to as a ‘DAMS’, this is the combination of software (computer programmes) and hardware (servers and computers) that you use to create and store digital assets.
Digital preservation The practice of ensuring that the digital files and content you produce continue to be accessible and usable in the long-term.
Digitisation The process of creating digital versions (pictures, 3D models or audiovisual files) of objects in your collection and making them available for use.
Metadata Metadata is structured information about your digital content. It bears the same relation to your digital files as your catalogue record has to the physical objects in your collection.
Mobile A wide-ranging term that usually refers to the use of handheld devices such as smartphones, iPads and tablet computers to access and create information.
Online collection A searchable database of your collections information that is available via the internet.
Participatory The idea that instead of just making content for your users, you work with them to find out what they need and encourage them to help you make it.
Scanner A scanner is essentially a photocopier, but instead of creating a paper copy, it generates a digital file as a faithful reproduction of the original.
User-generated Content Often shortened to ‘UGC’, this refers to any form of content (whether digital or not) that is created by the audience using or in response to content created by the museum.

Links to other glossaries

There are many glossaries of digital terms available on the Internet. Some of our favourites include: