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Proposing the modes of digital value for a memory institution

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Keynote delivered to the Museums and Digital Memory: from creation and curation to digital preservation - a British Museum conference: Monday 3rd september 2018
#MADM2018

ABSTRACT
I conceive of museums as ‘memory institutions’ as they assume a common aspiration in preserving, organizing and making available the cultural and intellectual records of their societies. Within this context the way they value their work and activity is a critical conception, especially in fast moving digital times. Value is individually understood and attributed but collectively shared and thus magnified. The word ‘value’ describes an idea about economics, an idea about personal expression and an idea about morality. Often these may be seen as in tension with each other. As the anthropologist Daniel Miller stresses value when expressed as ‘prices’ is directly opposed to value understood as ‘values’.

In a heritage context tangible value is often associated with artefacts, historic sites or places that are considered by organizations like UNESCO or ICOMOS as ‘inherently and intrinsically of value’. Intangible value is considered to be something that cannot be touched (such as education or social memory) or has a large information component and has greater fluidity, possibly changing in value over time and between different groups (such as beliefs, interests or symbolic associations). Intangible value is essential to appreciate for both memory institutions and digital resources - they rely on intangible values such as knowledge, social memory, education, brand or goodwill.

In my paper I argue for defining modes of value for digital culture in museums not solely driven by economics but which contain indicators of other more intangible values, even including non-use.

These 5 Value Lenses focus attention reflecting core values measured for their impact. The 5 Value Lenses are:
 Utility Value
 Existence and/or Prestige Value
 Education Value
 Community Value
 Inheritance / Legacy Value

These will be described in the paper and their usefulness to museums digital curation activities will be aligned.

Published in: Technology
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Proposing the modes of digital value for a memory institution

  1. 1. Professor Simon Tanner King’s College London @SimonTanner Proposing the modes of digital value for a memory institution #MADM2018
  2. 2. @SimonTanner ‘Memory institutions’ as a collective phrase for libraries, museums and archives dates back at least to 1994 with first usage attributed to Swedish information scientist Roland Hjerppe. By using the phrase ‘memory institution’ I am assuming a common aspiration across multiple sectors in preserving, organizing and making available the cultural and intellectual records of their societies. It also reflects the confluence with the growth in digital. A wider variety of organisations, such as schools, universities, media corporations, government or religious bodies could also legitimately be ascribed this title. For instance, the British Broadcasting Company; a University Press; or the Wayback Machine and the Internet Archive would fit the definition as well. Memory Institutions
  3. 3. @SimonTanner Curation & Unfunded Mandates Digitisation Web Archiving Collection Development Material heritage Intellectual heritage Digital Preservation Virtual heritage Web 2.0 / Interactive heritage User Generated Content Born digital Preservation & Conservation
  4. 4. @SimonTanner “We must look again at the relations between knowledge and values, the criteria according to which we say something is good, beautiful or true.” Roger Smith Museums, especially, have the “power to privilege particular forms of knowledge and to naturalise highly particularised sets of values.” Richard Sandell Smith, R., 2007. Being human : historical knowledge and the creation of human nature, Columbia University Press. Sandell, Richard. 2007. Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference. London: Routledge. Values, Knowledge & Museums
  5. 5. @SimonTanner Value is individually understood and attributed BUT collectively shared and thus magnified. In a digital world this presents the challenge of increasingly individualised and personalised interactions, simultaneously viewed and shared with others through social lenses in call and response loops. Values are Individual AND Shared
  6. 6. @SimonTanner “The word ‘value’ describes an idea about economics, an idea about personal expression and an idea about morality.” Dave O’Brien Sometimes value is described as an economic marker for worth or how much a product or service is valued compared to others, as indicated by price or willingness to pay. At other times value is used as an arbiter for preference, satisfaction, aesthetics or taste at any given moment. Morality means that value can also be viewed on an axis of moral and ethical debate against factors such as security, integrity, authenticity and validation. Often these may be seen as in tension with each other. O'Brien, Dave. 2014. Cultural policy: management, value and modernity in the creative industries. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1461188_0. Values are More than Money
  7. 7. @SimonTanner Where the value cannot be tangibly touched (such as education or social memory) and is not recordable as a transaction value or indicated by a set of assets. Intangible value has a large information component and has greater fluidity, possibly changing in value over time and between different groups (such as beliefs, interests or symbolic associations). Intangible value is essential to appreciate for both memory institutions and digital resources - they rely on intangible values such as knowledge, social memory, education, brand or goodwill. “the physical art pieces are tangible, preserved physically and they are hanging here and we can see it and discuss it, but the same mindset needs to be transferred into the digitized version of the art.” Christina Jensen, Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark Intangible Values
  8. 8. @SimonTanner Existence / Prestige Utility Inheritance / Legacy Modes of Digital Value Education Community
  9. 9. @SimonTanner Utility Value: The value and benefits directly gained by people through active use of the digital resource now or sometime in the future. Existence and/or Prestige Value: The value and benefits people derive from knowing that a digital resource exists and is cherished by a community; regardless of whether the resource is personally used or not. Education Value: The value and benefits directly gained by people from their own or others ability to learn and gain knowledge (formally or informally) from a digital resource. Community Value: The value and benefits directly gained by people from the experience of being part of a community engaging with, or afforded by, a digital resource. Inheritance / Legacy Value: The value and benefits derived by people from the ability to pass forward or receive digital resources between generations and communities. Such as the satisfaction that their descendants and other members of the community will in the future be able to enjoy a digital resource, if they so choose. Modes of Digital Value
  10. 10. bit.ly/2016impactrecommendationspaper http://pro.europeana.eu/publication/impact-assessment-case-study Twitter: @SimonTanner
  11. 11. bit.ly/2016impactrecommendationspaper Twitter: @SimonTanner Utility Value
  12. 12. bit.ly/2016impactrecommendationspaper Twitter: @SimonTanner Community Value
  13. 13. @SimonTanner Balancing Strategies with Values Economic Innovation OperationalSocial Utility Community ExistenceEducation Inheritance
  14. 14. Professor Simon Tanner King’s College London @SimonTanner Proposing the modes of digital value for a memory institution #MADM2018 www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=049320

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