Creating a Framework for a Digitization Strategy

A popular battle cry among some Internet enthusiasts is “information wants to be free.” But what if information could be better than free—more valuable to people who want to find and use it?


In January 2008, Kevin Kelly of WIRED magazine identified eight types of value that he said made information “better than free.” Starting from the premise that the Internet is essentially a gigantic copy machine, Kelly posited that people would only pay for things that can’t be copied.

“From my study of the network economy, I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free,” he blogged. “In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free. Eight uncopyable values. I call them ‘generatives.’ A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.”

Kenn Bicknell, an SLA member and digital resources librarian for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Library & Archive, has found another use for these generative values. In an “Info Tech” column for Information Outlook magazine, Bicknell asserts that the values can be used to help develop a strategy for digitizing library resources.

“Kelly’s construct explores eight key values that greatly enhance the information-seeking experience of our users,” Kenn writes. “. . . I have adapted this concept as a framework for identifying the many considerations involved in developing a digitization strategy.”

To learn more about the eight values and how they can be used as the basis for a digitization strategy, read Kenn’s column.

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