eBrandz Blog

Does content aggregation online need a code?

Terms such as ‘aggregation’ and ‘curation’ have become commonplace in the virtual realm, used as substitutes at times to describe even the creation of ‘original’ content. As article writing gets digitized, everything now floats around, for others to pluck, replicate and re-circulate. Traditional media has been a hapless and mute witness and even a participant in the process of content generation and not necessarily creation.

But there is also a fear that as custody of content turns into a more tenuous issue, unfair ownership claims may ultimately erode the Web’s value. So what is the way out? An idea of some code of conduct being put in place for content aggregators can be a probable solution, experts feel.

Ethical blogging and content aggregation

Columnist Simon Dumenco whose essay was picked up by Techmeme and The Huffington Post among others found that the former, despite its vast reader base, returned hardly any page views for his item. He conceptualized the Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation, a panel of media experts to formulate specific standards for aggregation. He calls it a pro-aggregation group that seeks some common-sense rules for the task.

Different such approaches in order to give credit where it actually belongs were suggested at a recent event in Austin. On a panel there, Maria Popova, popularly called brainpicker on Twitter, indicated that the failure in giving credit was getting endemic. She along with her collaborator Kelli Anderson, announced a website, which would offers a way to express where things actually come from.

It’s a shorthand tool to denote that most things on the Web originate elsewhere. Basically, it will make use of a symbol, which resembles a sideways S for expressing that a piece is from another source. A curved arrow-like symbol, on the other hand, would denote a ‘hat tip’, or nod to a source, which triggered a further churning of thought. The Curator’s Code will supply the relevant symbol and the writer or blogger simply places a hyperlink just behind it.

Giving due credit to discovery of information

The media and content expert equates the task of research and data discovery with a form of intense intellectual labor, and. when one fails to give a due regard to discovery, we’re in effect, robbing somebody’s precious time and effort. The Curator’s Code looks to rectify the situation in part. The whole idea is to make the process of attribution much more standardized. She likes to call herself a ‘curator of interestingness’ online. She is rather wary about attribution and feels others should really be careful as well. “What indeed makes the Internet magical to me is the fact that it’s an avenue for radical discovery,” she emphasizes.

Such initiatives in a sense, underline an honest effort to bring back the intrinsic promise of the ‘consumer Internet’, building visible connections between disparate pieces of information.