February 20, 2013

A Twitter Tale of Why Attribution Matters

One huge benefit of Twitter is the streaming capacity of tweets, especially during live events. Conference attendees can rely on a conference hashtag to appropriately tag their tweets for broadcasting clips of speakers and happenings. I’m not condoning passing up a conference to experience in person (but then again, it can be a plus to bypass huge crowds).

The annual conference of the IxDA (Interaction Design Association) was held in Toronto this year. I was browsing tweets streaming with the hashtag #IxD13. Quotables displayed from presentations. One such item was tweeted by Designer Carl Duffield:

An eloquent statement, which I wanted to RT (retweet), but wasn’t sure who said it: Carl himself or someone else? I reached out to Carl, who kindly and generously mined the source. The quote was from the presentation Setting Course – Design Research to Experience Roadmap by Brian Winters and Jason Ulaszek of Manifest Digital in Chicago.

I commend Carl for not dismissing the quote’s credit and taking the time to locate the source—long after his tweet’s publication in the Twitterverse. As he put it in our email exchange: “Lesson definitely learned to pull together my notes (where things were actually attributed) into my tweets.”

Attribution is a very big deal, not only within the context of interaction design, but all disciplines. Conferences—IxD, TED, et al.—are a particular wellspring in which attribution can be practiced. Because it takes work, attribution doesn’t align to the instant impulse of tweeting. While properly acknowledging who said what or what was made does affect timing, it doesn’t make what was shared less timely. All the more reason to be mindful of the originator, who provided the tweetable moment in the first place. This is why I admire initiatives like The Curator’s Code by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, who said it well: “Keep the rabbit hole of the Internet open by honoring discovery.”

Give credit.

• • •

Related: Design Feast uses The Curator’s Code. Read the past blog post about using it in tweets.

Discovered, via @workisnotajob, another tale of attribution between author Paulo Coelho and product maker Holstee.