April 18, 2012

Using “The Curator’s Code”

Website for “The Curator’s Code”

When Maria Popova, the brainpower behind Brain Pickings, released “The Curator’s Code” on March 9, 2012, I hastened to use it. I have not yet applied it to Design Feast discoveries, but It has guided my recent tweets. Some of my noteworthy findings from “The Curator’s Code”:

Visual interest
Being a visual designer, I’m biased toward visual marks. Some continue to prompt a renaissance—such as the ampersand and quotation marks. Another mark that fascinates me is the imprimatur. “The Curator’s Code” consists of: ᔥ which “indicates a link of direct discovery” (the key point being “direct”) and ↬ which “indicates a link of indirect discovery, story lead, or inspiration” (the operative word being “indirect”).

One commentator suggested that the symbols used for “The Curator’s Code” take advantage of an existing resource and standard—the unicode character set. #WinWin

I believe in the power of “via.” Often while composing tweets, I’m tempted to reduce the word via to a mere “v” or “v.” But this could be read as: versus or version. Every character and letter space counts in a tweet. “The Curator’s Code” lends flexibility to tweeting. 

The by-product of conserving characters and letter spaces in tweets is showing more than one point of credit. Tracing the sequence of who/what led to who/what may sound like over-engineering. But it’s not to me. There’s a quality of backtracking here that reminds me of Social Designer Scott Ballum’s “The Consume®econnection Project”. Ballum described his experiment as “a year-long effort to meet the laborers and craftspeople who made anything and everything I bought—before I bought it.”

Depending on how the tweet is composed, “The Curator’s Code” allows for at least one more credit of discovery:

In some cases, more than two credits of discovery can be shown. The marks, when consecutively used, give the impression of a linked string:

This is where I found “The Curator’s Code” to be most advantageous—in the act of acknowledgement. It drives and helps me to give more credit. Exposing the line of discovery—before I discovered it—also shows a line of mutual respect. 

While careful attention to “The Curator’s Code” symbols was clearly made, their symbolism is even more important. “The Curator’s Code” aims to “attribute ethically”, because it takes time and effort—hard work—to discover and share. “The Curator’s Code” means not taking another person’s hard work—at discovering and sharing—for granted.

• • •

One of the pieces of feedback to “The Curator’s Code” was from Andrew Beaujon, who reports on the media for Poynter Online. He commented on Popova’s thoughtful response to the reception of “The Curator’s Code.” The telling line of Beaujon’s commentary was: “Popova says the tenor of the reaction surprises her, which makes me wonder if she’s hooked up to the same Internet I am.” To me, Popova is “hooked up to the same Internet.” The difference here is that Popova views the Internet as a community—kinder, gentler—whereas Beaujon depicts the Internet as an island of isolation—abrasive, harsh. Both versions of the Internet exist. When it comes to which Internet reality I aspire to learn from and contribute to, Popova’s humane version is far more appealing than the cold cyberspace that Beaujon aligns himself to, based on his report.

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made write-up, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.