Archive for November 20th, 2014

Should we let the crowd decide which authors should be prioritized for digitization once their work enters the public domain? If so, Virginia Woolf would be high on the list.

Of the 1,011,304 authors included on Wikipedia, Virginia Woolf has a ranking ofWoolf on Wikipedia 1,081, and there are 1,902 views of her entry each day, making her the top-ranked individual who died in 1941.

Those figures are part of an algorithm developed by Allen Riddell at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that automatically generates an independent ranking of notable authors for a given year. In developing the algorithm, he mined two sources: Wikipedia and a list of more than a million online books in the public domain. Nineteen of Woolf’s works are on the list.

Riddell’s article, “Public Domain Rank: Identifying Notable Individuals with the Wisdom of the Crowd,” takes an objective approach to argue that online popularity should help determine which authors’ works entering the public domain should be made easily available through digitization.

However, he does offer the caveat that the new Public Domain Ranking reflects Wikipedia’s inherent biases, including the fact that the site has few female editors.


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