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 sources through those we already know and trust.
While we have systems in place for literary citation, image attribution, and scientific reference, we don’t yet have a system that codifies the attribution of discovery in curation as a currency of the information economy, a system that treats discovery as the creative labor that it is.
This is what The Curator’s Code is – a suggested system for honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery by making attribution consistent and codified, celebrating authors and creators, and also respecting those who discover and amplify their work. It’s an effort to make the rabbit hole open, fair, and ever-alluring. This not about policing the Internet from a place of top-down authority, it’s about encouraging respect and kindness among the community.
Note: The unicode symbols ᔥ and ↬ are simply shorthand for the familiar “via” and “HT,” respectively. While you may still choose to use “via” and “HT” the old-fashioned way – the goal here is to attribute ethically, regardless of how you do it – there are two reasons we are proposing the unicode characters: One, they are a cleaner, more standardized way to attribute. Two, since the characters are wrapped in a hotlink to the Curator’s Code site, they serve as messengers for the ethos of the code itself, as people encounter them across the web and click to find out what they represent.