Curator’s Code — No thanks

My initial reaction about reading about the Curator’s Code was that it was one of the most ridiculous things that I’ve read in a long, long time. People do link back in a fair way as it stands. People do use via links when. For someone to basically create a system that really benefits themselves is self serving. I’ve never been comfortable with people throwing out the term curator either, but I’ll come back to that in a moment. There are so many ways people find content on the web. People like reading and sharing content. They don’t like spending extra time trying to figure out how they come came across it in the first place, and having to check back with other sites to see if someone else mentioned it first. For example I might read something from!/MichaelSurtees. All those links are based on people that I follow on Twitter. I may not have seen the link from any of those people in my stream though. The Curator’s Code does nothing to help attribute this. If I want to share a link who am I supposed to mention if five people I’m following all mentioned it? As for this blog here, when I post about a link I typically talk about how I came across the article. I find it helpful to include that in the narrative.

I was surprised to see that more than a couple people felt the same way as I do about this system. Some of the private & public notes that I received included “Seems like inside-baseball journo back-patting. Also, misuse of word ‘curation’ yet again”, “Popova has stated that she dislikes the word “curation” — but she does seem to think that she has weird ownership of it as an activity”, “I’m a bit WTF about it”, “It seems to be premised on the idea that “via” was too easy to type” and my personal favorite “It reminded me of the 14-year-olds on Tumblr who whine when they’re not credited for “finding” a Warhol print. On the Internet. Laughable.”…

Ultimately my response to the Curators Code is this:

I have respect for people that actually create something, I don’t for people that overshare and think they deserve some sort of credit.

I like when people pass along stuff that I shared with my name on it but I’m not going to hold it against them if they don’t. I don’t own the links I share and no one should try to make a system that really benefits a small group of people that only link to each other.

Probably my favorite article that I’ve read calling out the Curator’s Code for what it is, is from @mattlanger titled Stop Calling it Curation. I wish I had written it myself. Some of my favorite quotes from the post:

“Curation” is an act performed by people with PhDs in art history; the business in which we’re all engaged when we’re tossing links around on the internet is simple “sharing.” And some of us are very good at that! (At least if we accept “very good” to mean “has a large audience.”)

And yet we see this sort of thing happen all the time on the internet, all these great hand-wringing debates over “proper” attribution (“proper” usually meaning “sending traffic my way as a reward for finding something first”).

The self-described “curator” of the modern day web seeks special recognition for what is nothing more than a pattern of behavior that distinguishes an individual from those with uncurious, idle minds. Rather than issuing demerits on the latter we’re instead being invited—no! implored, rather, via an “actionable code of ethics”—to heap praise upon the former. And I’m sorry, but I refuse to be bullied into giving people credit for shit they’re supposed to be doing, especially not when that comes at the price of devaluing the most important object of attribution—original content—by setting it up as just one among a multitude of things deserving of attribution.

Furthermore, Maria Popova was quoted by David Carr today saying that “When we don’t honor discovery, we are robbing somebody’s time and labor.” Which: Bull. Shit.

I could basically copy + paste the entire post…

Other stuff worth reading about comes from Marco Arment post I’m not a “curator” and Daniel Howells’ post Trying to understand The Curator’s Code’s approach to attributing discovery.

I have no idea how I missed this from BloombergBusinessweek but it’s pretty great. Additional symbols are suggested in Do We Need a Copyright Symbol for Sharing? Some of my personal favorites included below:

✉ Chain e-mail forwarded from Uncle Seymour
☕ Overheard in Starbucks
☔ Saw it out my window
♛ Tip left by a Foursquare Mayor
¿ I can’t remember—and may have totally just made this up

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  • hhheather

    Some valid points. Mostly lost on me by the overall negative vibe of the article. 

  • Darryl Jonckheere

    Personally I don’t have a problem if people want to call it curation, content source crediting, sharing, or something else. I do however think the idea of a “curators code” or yet another rigid set of rules for outlining “proper” attribution on the Web is largely a waste of time. No one would follow such rules nor would they be enforceable by any reliable means. We already have an established form of attribution on the Web, it’s called the hyperlink.

  • Justin P Lambert

    Not for nothing, but isn’t this entire post “sharing” – or whatever you want to call it – a bunch of other peoples’ information about The Curator’s Code?  I mean, you basically found something online, linked to it, reacted to it, found some more things online that supported your views, linked to them, reacted to them, copied portions of what they said and gave them credit for it, and couched all of the above in your own creative format and personal expressions.  According to every legitimate definition of the word as it’s used in today’s online vernacular, you are a “curator” of content about dissenting views about The Curator’s Code.  Congratulations on disproving your own point.