When we create a digital file the meaningful content or message we care about is encoded into a sequence of binary digits, formatted in a particular way.
In order to turn the formatted binary into understandable information we rely on a combination of software and hardware to interpret it and present it to us in a meaningful way. The reliance on software and hardware to interpret digital files makes selecting a file format especially important. Choosing software that is widely used – or even better not tied to one particular software company – raises the chances of that file being readable long into the future.
If you are creating digital images, audio or video, determining the fidelity (i.e. the quality) of your digital material is also important. Certain file formats commonly used for sharing or published on the web are of lower quality so that users do not experience the frustrations of waiting too long for files to be downloaded/streamed/presented to them. However when we are choosing files to preserve for the long term we would choose the best quality file available in order to maintain a high quality source for longer.
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