Comparative Impact Assessment of Documentaries and Related Media


We present our work from developing and applying a theoretically grounded, empirical and computational methodology for assessing and comparing the impact of information products in a systematic and rigorous fashion. This work started with assessing the impact of social justice documentaries. For that purpose, we have developed a theoretical framework and pertinent technology that enables people to a) collect data from a variety of sources, including media and social media, b) constructing a baseline of key stakeholders and their opinions associated with the main issues addressed in a documentary, c) tracking changes in the baseline over time and d) identifying which changes might be related to the content of a documentary and/ or its coverage in (social) media. We will give a brief overview on this process, and discuss in more detail how this work has been used by filmmakers to understand and leverage the opportunity spaces for increasing the impact of their production early on, and by funders to evaluate the impact of a production after its release. Recently, we have expanded our efforts to also study the impact of literature, and will discuss pertinent challenges and solutions.

For the purpose of this work we have built ConText, a publicly available technology designed for researchers and practitioners in the digital humanities and computational social sciences to jointly analyze text data and network data.