Leona Hobbs is Vice President & Partner at Social Media Group. Follow @flackadelic

Thrilled to introduce The Curator’s Code – a new standard for honoring attribution of discovery across the webj.mp/wxqinx

— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) March 9, 2012

Last week, Maria Popova introduced a new standard for honouring attribution of discovery across the web. As an avid curator, the lack of systems and standards to attribute discovery across social platforms has left me feeling downright uncomfortable at times. Platforms like Pinterest don’t prompt for or require an attribution for source (let alone the attribution of discovery). So what’s this “attribution for discovery” and why is it important? These days the role of curators is increasingly important – they are the people who plumb the depths of the ‘net to surface up the best content, they frequently add value to that content by framing it with a snappy title, context or adding some additional links. This act of curation, is, in of itself an art form. That’s the position of Maria Popova and her collaborators who introduced the Curator’s Code last week at SXSWi in Austin.

One of the most magical things about the Internet is that it’s a whimsical rabbit hole of discovery — we start somewhere familiar and click our way to a wonderland of curiosity and fascination we never knew existed. What makes this contagion of semi-serendipity possible is an intricate ecosystem of “link love” — a via-chain of attribution that allows us to discover new wonderlands through those we already know and trust. The Curator’s Code is an effort to keep this whimsical rabbit hole open by honoring discovery through an actionable code of ethics — first, understanding why attribution matters, and then, implementing it across the web in a codified common standard, doing for attribution of discovery what Creative Commons has done for image attribution.

Curator's Code screenshot It boils down to two unicode text characters for Via = ᔥ (Indicates a link of direct discovery) and another for Hat Tip! = ↬ (Indicates a link of indirect discovery, story lead or inspiration). There is a handy browser Bookmarklet that automates the creation of the attribution symbols (as I have done here in this post). You may also simply cut and paste the symbol or spell out “via” and “ht”. In reaction to the announcement, David Carr at The New York Times writes:

So where is the line between promoting the good work of others and simply lifting it? Naughty aggregation is analogous to pornography: You know it when you see it. As custody of content becomes more tenuous, there’s a risk that we may end up passing around and putting topspin on fewer and fewer original works. This has created a growing sense of unease among both digital immigrants and natives that the end of “ownership” could eventually diminish the Web’s value.

I’m calling all curators: Do you recognize the need to attribute discovery? Will you Reblog, Retweet, Pin and post with or without formal attribution of discovery? Is the Curator’s Code for you?

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