Digital Archiving Resources

Digital Ephemera and the Calculus of Importance

Title

Digital Ephemera and the Calculus of Importance

Subject

Web Archiving

Description

In this blogpost, Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, argues that square root sampling, a mathematically developed method for crime prevention, can help archivists make acquisition decisions, especially when large amounts of ephemera are to be archived. Cohen contends that ephemera are important collections of primary sources for practicing historians. Yet he acknowledges that the amount of available ephemera is overwhelming. The Calculus of Importance can help determine which ephemera to keep. The Calculus of Importance, according to mathematician William Press, is the ideal way to determine who should be screened for criminal activity. Cohen exemplifies the method, which is essentially a weighted form of random sampling, and maintains that it does not only apply to crime prevention, but in several other fields, archiving among them. Cohen asserts that using the calculus of importance on digital ephemera and other records that exist in large quantities is advantageous because we cannot anticipate who or what will be deemed important by future historians.

Creator

Cohen, Dan

Date

05-17-2010

Contributor

Laura Moeller

Type

Blog article

Bibliographic Citation

Cohen, Dan, “Digital Ephemera and the Calculus of Importance,” Dan Cohen (blog), 17 May, 2010.

Local URL

http://www.dancohen.org/2010/05/17/digital-ephemera-and-the-calculus-of-importance/

Files

Screenshot5.jpg

Collection

Citation

Cohen, Dan, “Digital Ephemera and the Calculus of Importance,” Digital Archiving Resources, accessed November 19, 2017, http://dar.cah.ucf.edu/items/show/293.