11 Value of Information

The Value of Information

“The value of information is manifested in various contexts, including publishing practices, access to information, the commodification of personal information, and intellectual property laws (ACRL).” (7)

What is the value of information in a democratic society? Thomas Jefferson stated, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” Access to credible information about our government, our laws, world affairs, and access to the latest research on medical, environmental and social issues is critical to a free and open society. Should certain information be free and accessible to all?

Information is ubiquitous in our society. Many of us spend our days connected to mass media content. What is the value of the information that you consume? Is the “free” information as useful as the information you purchase? Have you considered that you are actually providing your personal data in exchange for access to “free” information? How much is your personal data worth in a capitalist society?

These are questions to consider as you engage with information in your daily, work and academic life. The information that you create is intellectual property and, as such, its use is governed by both legal and ethical considerations. (1)

Cost and Value of Information

In this module, you will learn to identify the characteristics of information, which contribute to its value. In your academic, personal, and professional lives, you need to assess the value of information so that you can make wise decisions with your money and solve problems using the best information possible.

One of the most obvious characteristics of information is cost. What is the difference between cost and value?


The importance, worth, or usefulness of something.


An amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something.

Paying for Content

Do you regularly spend money to buy digital information? If so, what do you purchase?

According to a Pew Study (2010), 65% of U.S. Internet users paid for online content. Most of us spend about $10 per month on information. Digital music and software are the most commonly downloaded forms of information.

A 2016 pop-up poll of 1006 students showed that 31% paid for music or videos, 44% paid for TV or movies, 15% paid for apps or games, 1% paid for news or magazines and the remainder marked “other.” (9)

Adding Value to Information

Why do people pay for online information if so much on the Internet is free? If you are looking for the most valuable information, it can be difficult to know how much to pay for it.

Value-added information is defined as information that has been enhanced to increase its usefulness.

Value-Added Characteristics of Information

Here are some of the most common value-added characteristics of information that people are willing to pay for along with an example.

Click on each blank to reveal the information.

Proprietary Information
Information that cannot be found anywhere else for free.
Example: Copyrighted information. .
Expert Advice
Information that is created or edited by an expert(s).
Examples: Consumer Reviews, investment advice, scholarly literature.
Synthesized Information
Information that synthesizes, simplifies, condenses, or extrapolates meaning from larger amounts of information.
Example: The “For Dummies” books. .
Save Time or Money
Information that saves you time or money.
Example: A travel booking website comparing different flights and prices in order to save you time and money. .
Organized Information
Information that has been organized and is now manageable.
Examples: Library catalogs; web browsers like Google and Yahoo.(9) (9)


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