Do I Have To Say That I Found This Article On The Drudge Report?

David Carr reports from SXSW on a new "Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation" forming, which will attempt to curb the body snatching effect of link zombies like the Huffington Post. It's good to create guidelines — or even best practices — for how much content is OK to steal.

(I reprinted an entire article once — it was back when didn't permanently save all their City Section articles. I know that's weird to think about, but this was actually the case back in 2005. I won't even mention, except that I just did, the fact that the City Section itself is no longer part of the paper. Anyway, I was interested in this particular story because our old apartment overlooked the place that the story was written about, and I wanted to pin the article to my digital bulletin board — hmmm . . . what a concept! — so I copied the whole article. If it upsets someone I'll be more than happy to take it down, but in a way keeping it as is says a lot about the history of the site, right?)

The obvious solution is to ban advertisements on aggregator sites. I'm pretty sure this wouldn't work though. And if it did work, they'd just find some other way to make it lucrative — like sell your demographics to third parties or something like that. But seriously — removing the remunerative component would remove the main reason most of the bad-style of aggregators are in business. That's just a modest proposal though . . .

I'm curious what the guidelines will look like. I sort of assume it's going to be difficult to set up good guidelines though. The only explicit one I ever saw used to be printed in online stories for the Brooklyn Eagle, which — regardless of whether it was original reporting or (ironically) a summary of a blog post — always featured the following disclaimer (until recently; they're updating their website and the disclaimer isn't there anymore):

All materials posted on are protected by United States copyright law. Just a reminder, though — It's not considered polite to paste the entire story on your blog. Most blogs post a summary or the first paragraph, (40 words) then post a link to the rest of the story. That helps increase click-throughs for everyone, and minimizes copyright issues. So please keep posting, but not the entire article.

I like the Brooklyn Eagle OK — sometimes they will have an interesting article that I would like to link to on the blog, or maybe even excerpt, but I'd always scratch my head when I'd see that strict 40-word limit. For one, that previous sentence is 40 words (41 if you include the long dash), and I could never figure out what a good excerpt that short would look like. Could we fudge a little the way that people like to fudge in the express lane? Or would I be impolite? Or if not, how far could I go and not be impolite? Such is the problem with guidelines.

Have you ever looked at Fair Use laws? I'm looking at this educational materials example from Stanford: I like, in particular, the 250-word limit for poems. Has any poet ever purposely done 251-word poems? Then the class could play Where's Waldo with the missing word in the excerpt . . .

And then Carr reports on 'the "Curator's Code of Conduct" which, by operationalizing link etiquette, seems to really indulge people's latent Eureka! complex:

The Curator's Code will use a symbol resembling a sideways S to express that a piece of content came directly from another source, and a different figure — a curved arrowlike symbol — to signal what is commonly known as a "hat tip," or nod to a source that inspired a further thought. The Curator's Code supplies the appropriate symbol and then the blogger or writer simply puts in a hyperlink behind it as they normally would.

[Maria] Popova, who spends hours a day scrounging the Web for remarkable artifacts, has noticed that many idiosyncratic discoveries suddenly become ubiquitous once unearthed. And the source of that little gem, or the credit for someone else who dug it up, often disappears when it is reposted.

"Discovery of information is a form of intellectual labor," she said. "When we don't honor discovery, we are robbing somebody's time and labor. The Curator's Code is an attempt to solve some of that."

Setting aside the richness inherent in the idea that people on the internet are somehow being robbed of their intellectual labor by reposting or summarizing or linking to someone else's intellectual labor, the platform that really prevents this tipping of hats from taking place isn't so much the Huffington Post as it is Twitter, where attributions easily fall by the wayside when you're only limited to 140 characters. Maybe someone way smarter than myself can figure out how to fix that one. Good luck, pard'ner.

Y'all come back now, yahear? [Tip of Hat]

Posted: March 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: FW: Link | Tags: , , , , , , , ,