Curator’s Code is a simple bit of unicode you can paste anywhere, pointing readers to original source material or inspirations for stories, and helping promote an ethos of attribution and transparency across the internet.

THE INTERNET is akin to a continuously detonating nuclear explosion. As original content is published, there’s this fission-like effect: original content — source material — is curated by readers and editors, copied, excerpted, replicated, remixed into new stories, then blown up through social media in a forever growing mushroom cloud.

Tiny fragments of fallout are dispersed across the internet, diluted in power, broken out of context, largely sourceless, as is the work behind “discovering,” curating, and spreading the content.

Curator’s code is a way not only to give attribution to authors, but “a system for honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery.” It gives all of us who work online a new tool for sharing how we found certain stories and ideas.

The concept

In Curator’s code‘s words:

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.

How it works

As you work on writing or researching stories, inevitably you come across text, images, and video that either make their way into your work, or lead you to new story ideas.

Curator’s code gives you two options for making attributions. All you have to do is copy the characters or code and paste them directly into your CMS (video instructions below).

is short for “via” and indicates a link of direct discovery — for example, an image that you found to illustrate an article.

is short for “hat tip,” and indicates a link of indirect discovery. For example, if there was a certain site through which you found a video, you could “hat tip” that site. Traditionally you’d just embed / link the video, thus obscuring your work / the pathway which led you to discovering the information. You could even use this for story inspirations. For example, this story idea was passed on to me David Page.

If habituated, this ethos of attribution — of sharing not only what you discover, but how you discovered it — could lead us to a more transparent experience on the internet. I’m going to start using it every time I want to show where story ideas / leads came from. How about you?