Mark Rothko, curated by Jermayne MacAgy for the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, 1957.
“MacAgy managed to ignore design systems — or tried to work outside of systems of taste for these shows. Early on, here in Houston, when she did a Rothko show, she went out of her way to have beautiful flowers in the entryway — living flowers, planting beds. It was just a general reminder that you don’t start trying to ask why the flowers are some color — you relax and enjoy their beauty. It was a very interesting reminder that viewers should not be upset with the Rothkos if there’s no image there, no subject. What is the image of a flower? It’s just a color, it’s a flower.” — Walter Hopps, interview from A Brief History of Curating, JRP | Ringier, 2008
The great Maria Popova, who curates Brain Pickings, has devised a much-needed best practice for attribution on sites that curate content from around the web (like this one).
The Curator’s Code seeks to balance the magic of the rabbit-hole of web discovery with fair and honest attribution to the sources and creators.
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 system for honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery by making attribution consistent and codified, the celebrated norm.
It’s an effort to make the rabbit hole open, fair, and ever-alluring.
It consists of two unicode characters, one (ᔥ) to replace “via”, and the other (↬) to replace “HT” or “hat-tip”. Are you just re-linking and not adding much context? Use the first. Using material as inspiration for something more? Use the second.
There’s even a bookmarklet to make it super-easy across many platforms, and a how-to video. It’s a few seconds of work that can alter the culture of attribution and sharing on the social web.
Learn more about the Cartoon Art Museum and how they go about setting up a show in this FLOG interview with curator Andrew Farago! For those in San Francisco, go check out the Pretty In Ink show already!