Tuesday, 8 December 2015

What does value and impact mean?

Please help me to define and understand value and impact from your perspective.

Thank you for coming and reading this post - I hope you can contribute as well.
I am writing a book, due out in 2016!

Delivering Impact with Digital Resources
Planning Strategy in the Attention Economy

I want to include as many views and thoughts from all of you about what is value and impact. If you would, please answer in the comments (or email me) your answer to the following questions.

  • What does value mean?

  • What does impact mean?

  • Are there examples of value and/or impact that you'd like to point towards?  Please add them also.

I am interested in your perspective, there are no bad answers here and I am as interested in the differences we find as the similarities.

I hope to use quotes, ideas and examples in the book - I will always acknowledge and ask before I use anything posted here or sent to me.

Synopsis for the book

Our digital presence has the power to change lives and life opportunities. We must understand digital values to consider how our organisational presence within digital cultures can create benefits and it is through the use of impact assessment that we can then seek to understand how we are fostering benefits and change with our communities. This book will focus upon introducing and defining digital values with a clear argument that revealing and understanding them is a key to success in developing digital content.

This book will investigate how digital values and impact affect our lives with practical plans for how to deliver and sustain value and impact from digital content. Chapters will cover the attention economy, cultural economics, the difference between tangible and intangible benefits and issues around sharing open content as well as the means to understand your digital ecosystem, your stakeholders and then delivering on the promise implicit in your digital resources/activities. A common thread throughout the book is how to explore the difference between the attitudes expressed by groups within digital cultures versus the actual behaviours they exhibit. These are, my book will contend, best viewed through the lens of digital values. This book will demonstrate them through case studies from many sectors and geographies to show how they are explored and applied.

This book will provide each chapter in 3 parts:

  • Framing Thinking, 
  • Taking Action and 
  • Checklist 

so that the reader can get the most effective use out of the book. Thus the book is also a guide to using the Balanced Value Impact Model and a wide range of data gathering and evidence based methods.  This guidance will be especially useful for managing digital presences as diverse as those in memory organisations (such as libraries and museums); creative and cultural industries (such as publishing, media and e-commerce); and Web-based activities (such as social media, crowdsourcing or user-generated content).

The book will be published by Facet Publishing watch this space for more.

Want to read more of my work and can't wait for the book. Check out my research space here and find a recent paper on Using Impact as a Strategic Tool for Developing the Digital Library available under Open Access.


  1. Interesting questions, Simon.

    My cynical answer would be that 'impact' means you can submit it for REF as an 'impact' project. This could then lead to promotion.

    My less cynical answer is that a project with impact changes the way people behave or do or are. That might mean shifting the types of research projects people do in future by opening up access to a new archive of material. It might mean getting people reconsider their views on a group (maybe immigrants) because of a narrative they were able to engage with online.

    We at the Programming Historian (http://programminghistorian.org) like to think we have an impact on the ways people can do their research, giving them the skills to explore new methods. We know we're not alone in that, but we are starting to see a shift in the ways digital historians and digital immigrants are approaching their research.

    Of course, Hitler also had an impact. So we have to be careful about building impact into our strategy without also considering morality.

    Interesting discussion. I look forward to reading more as it develops.

  2. Thanks Adam, interesting as ever. Can I unpack some of your thoughts. The Programming Historian is clearly making a difference to people - it is a value judgement as to whether this is a beneficial change imho - where does value sit in your own judgement?
    Similarly with the Hitler comment - yes impact can be positive or negative. Change is not neutral. You mention morality as a means of pushing towards a more positive likely outcome. Again does a value system have to come into play? And which values do you value the most?
    PS. what's a "digital immigrant" in your context? Is this someone new coming into the digital sphere of academic research?
    PPS. Glad you can see beyond the REF for impact. Important to reach beyond that metric in my opinion.

  3. Hi Simon. DebV, UTS just gave me yur name. I am a value researcher. See my work at: valman.blogspot.com. Links thee to my phd on what value is and how value works. Interesting stuff. R