The Curator Code: Systemizing Attribution For Online Content

curator code, Maria Popova, brainpickings, online attribution

Everyone who has had an elementary school education knows you have to cite  your sources when conducting research. When I was in grade school, my sources were a physical set of encyclopedias available in my school’s library, and if I had a laid back teacher, the multimedia encyclopedia Encarta. Early in college I was allowed to use Wikipedia as a source for my journalism classes but had to be subtle about it. Years later, the attribution of sources and copyright issues have plagued bloggers and social platforms on a regular basis. In the past week, Pinterest has had their legal terms and conditions questioned since by its nature, Pinterest encourages people to share images and videos they don’t necessarily own – and not everyone is making sure what they pin is properly sourced.

Maria Popova,  Atlantic contributorthe author of Brainpickings, and one of the web’s foremost experts on the art of curation according to The Atlantic, is launching The Curator’s Code, a system to “honor and standardize the attribution of discovery across the web.” The code has two types of attribution identified with a unicode character:

 stands for “via” and signifies a direct link of discovery, to be used when you simply repost a piece of content you found elsewhere, with little or no modification or addition.

 stands for the common “HT” or “hat tip,” signifying an indirect link of discovery, to be used for content you significantly modify or expand upon compared to your source, for story leads, or for indirect inspiration encountered elsewhere that led you to create your own original content.

The unicode characters then link to the Curator Code’s site (which looks pretty fantastic by the way). According to The Atlantic, Popova hopes that what Creative Commons has done for the attribution of imagery, the Curator’s Code wants to do for the attribution of discovery. However, the site is also meant to support the philosophy that curation is an art form – as long as you play by the rules.

With the freedom of the Internet being threatened by lawyers taking a deep dive, the nature of curation and sharing a.k.a. the fundamentals of social media are at risk. The Curator Code hopes to systemize this attribution process. However, it hopes to keep the entire Internet audience in line, a feat that is almost as impossible as telling students not to use Wikipedia.

What are your thoughts? Will every blogger adopt the Curator Code?

3 thoughts on “The Curator Code: Systemizing Attribution For Online Content

  1. Popova steals other people’s work on a regular basis by illegally posting pictures from books without permission from the illustrators. The idea that she would be writing some sort of code of honor is utterly ludicrous.

    1. I did not know that she did that, it definitely appears a little hypocritical. Do you have any examples you can share?

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