Reclaimed – “The Curator’s Code”
I have been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I was always unsure about how to really get it from my head onto the page.
About a month ago – or so – I was on my way to work, listening to Design Matters from Design Observer. I listen to this podcast regularly, and am fascinated by the guests that Debbie brings in. At first it was just about names I recognized (Stefan Sagmeister), but thanks to this podcast I have been introduced to many great designers (R.I.P Massimo Vignelli) that will never know me, or thousands of their other fans as we are lurkers in a sense.
The designer(s) I want to mention today are Maria Popova (@brainpickings) and Tina Roth Eisenberg (@swissmiss). During Design Matters Maria talked about the curator’s code. Essentially the code consists of two parts:
1) via, which indicates the original creator of the work
2) hat tip, which indicates how you found the content.
The curator’s code includes unicode characters and links back to the code which anyone can use.
You might be wondering, “why would I ever want to bother with this stuff?” For me it is about respect for creators. All too often you will find a Facebook page, or Tumblr page, or Twitter account, that share really cool stuff that has ZERO attribution to anyone. For example, one Facebook page I follow posts photos of really cool woodworking projects. I follow them because many of the photos of different creations are actually really cool, but they include a comment with many of the posts that gives me indigestion, “what a great piece of craftsmanship, let’s give a like for the woodworker.” You can imagine the irony of that when no attribution of the work is given. It’s no different than when people stand up and clap at the end of a movie I guess, other than that the creator’s of the movie definitely got paid for their efforts.
Maybe you’re thinking “but JR, it’s Facebook, not a paper or an article.” To which I will respond by sharing the event that prompted me to write this post. A few days ago one of the bloggers I follow posted about Digital Literacy. I thought “Great! Something to add to my diigo library on the topic, and expand on my knowledge in the area.” I followed the link from my RSS reader to their page which indicated that a group had just published about the topic. “Awesome,” I thought, “I haven’t seen this group’s take on this yet” only to be met with crippling defeat when I recognized the images provided by both the group and this individual blogger. I followed the link back to the groups posting and they cite the original creator, but the blogger I follow was so – I don’t even know how to describe it – that they didn’t even bother. I mean it was right there!
So I thought to myself, “I can help, I’ll just comment on the blog post and this will be fixed.” I was immediately met with this comment will appear after moderation type response. To this day the post has not changed at all. This kind of thing is frustrating and I see it in education blogs constantly. One would hope that people in education would at least try to provide some kind of attribution to the works they reference.
So here, I will make an oath, not to be perfect or without error, but to try to abide by the curator’s code and give attribution to the creators and curators of content by linking to their pages and/or using “via” “hat tip” “HT” or the unicode. I also am committed to telling others about the code so that they may use it and make sure that at the very least, we respect creators, and curators, around us.