Digital artifact

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Not to be confused with Virtual artifact.
A complicated grid pattern is insufficiently processed by a smartphone camera.
Garbled processing by an HTC EVO.

There are different definitions for the term "digital artifact" in different fields. In information science, a digital artifact is any undesired or unintended alteration in data introduced in a digital process by an involved technique and/or technology. Alternately, in anthropology and archeology a digital artifact is an artifact that is of a digital nature or creation. For example, a created gif would be considered a digital artifact.

Digital artifact or e-artifact is a digital work created in any of a range of electronic formats; text, audio, video, image, animation or a combination of these.

In information science, some reasons a digital artifact might be generated are:

  • Hardware malfunction: In computer graphics, visual artifacts may be generated whenever a hardware component such as the processor, memory chip, cabling malfunctions, etc. causes data corruption. Examples of malfunctions can be caused by physical damage, overheating, insufficient voltage, and GPU overclocking, etc. Common types of hardware artifacts are texture corruption and T-vertices in 3D graphics, and pixelization in MPEG compressed video.
  • Software malfunction: Similar to hardware malfunction, artifacts may be caused by software issues such as bugs in the algorithms, such as decoding/encoding introducing artifacts into audio or video, or a poor pseudo-random number generator would introduce artifacts distinguishable from the desired noise into statistical models.
  • Compression: Controlled amounts of unwanted information may be generated as a result of the use of lossy compression techniques. One of such cases are the artifacts seen in JPEG and MPEG compression algorithms. See compression artifacts.
  • Aliasing: Digital imprecision generated in the process of converting analog information into digital space is due to the limited granularity of digital numbering space. In computer graphics, aliasing is seen as pixelation.
  • Rolling shutter, the line scanning of an object which is moving too fast for the CMOS camera to capture a unitary image.

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