Media discontinuity

Media discontinuity

The term media discontinuity or media disruption refers to switching between different media within the same process of information processing or acquisition.

The person seeking (or processing) information is thereby forced to change their strategy of information processing or searching in order to comply with the media at hand. It is often assumed that a media discontinuity within a chain of information processing complicates and slows down the acquisition and processing of data, information and content and may also reduce it in quality.

For instance, a business process is being interrupted whenever data needs to be passed on in a different form than it was received in. A good example for this are order form of mail order businesses which are filled in by the customer and need to be entered into the order processing system either manually or partially automized.

In the course of electronic business it is often desired to avoid media discontinuities by integrating business functions along the value chain. This serves to reduce transaction costs in order to make a business more competitive. Avoiding media disruption in order to make public administration more efficient is also one of the main goals of E-Government.



Traditional ways of media handling are being virtualized by introducing electronic storage and on-screen content retrieval. Predictions that traditional media would disappear are Legion, however they have been disproved entirely by recent development. Known media is continuously replaced by new developments, e. g. punch tapes were replaced by floppy disks which in turn were replaced by CDS.

This causes known media discontinuities to disappear, however some of these are replaced by new ones. This development will always repeat in various occurrences. Some physical medias remain, such as paper and screens.

Convergence in Communication Technology

Replacing the diversity of different devices for different ways of communication which have historically been developed one after another in mobile communication with unified platforms and thereby eliminating unnecessary media discontinuities is of particular interest. For instance, there is a functional relation between the interactions between a user and different devices, such as:

The goal of a convergent communication strategy is to unify the features within devices which have display capabilities designed for the use case in question and which are as lightweight as possible.

Such convergence is achieved by dropping traditional communication networks such as landlines and LAN in favor of WLAN. The duality of ITU, IETF and other standards helps to achieve this goal in the long term.

Media discontinuities in Security Technology

However, within the field of security technology, there are use cases where media disruptions are desired in order to raise the security level. Classic attack scenarios against security systems are described in international standards. Security is improved whenever an attack needs to be performed on two different medias or two different devices at the same time.

Virtual Media Discontinuities by use of Separate Communication Channels

For instance, there are banks, where transaction numbers for online banking are sent to the account holder by text message. This kind of multi-factor authentication via internet and cellular network with two or more security factors is considered extra secure.

Physical Media Disruption by use of Separate Devices

An additional increase of security against attacks can be achieved by dividing security-related features across two devices such as a cell phone and a security token. In this case, the physical relationship can be used as a security factor as well. Multi-factor authentication with proximity estimate between devices with two or more security factors is very easy to understand and therefore considered even more secure.

See also

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