Curators’ Codes to Standardize ‘Hat Tips’ and ‘Vias’

An interesting proposal was made at SXSW this week to standardize the way we bloggers, and other content aggregators and curators, make reference to those from whom we get interesting tidbits that spark a thought (a ‘hat tip’) or are the source of our post (a ‘via’). The glyphs are called Curator’s Codes. They are Unicode characters meant to be a standard (if not a real one, a standard of practice) for giving where credit is due:

Symbol Purpose HTML Code

[Unicode 1525]
Via <span style=”font-family:sans-serif;text-decoration:none;”>&#x1525;</span>

[Unicode 21ac]
Hat Tip <span style=”font-family:sans-serif;text-decoration:none;”>&#x21ac;</span>

The symbol itself is the link to the source. Curator’s Codes could be rendered in line, much like a brief citation, or used as freestanding blocks. Or, really, in any way that’s sensible to the author. As in, for example, the hat tip for this post:  David Carr, “A Code of Conduct for Content Aggregators”.

What’s the point? To quote the folks at  Curators Code:

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.

As we madly link from thing to thing, and others, in turn, pick up our post and run with it, quoting here, paraphrasing there, it’s all too easy for something one author says to be lost in the expounded thoughts of another. Making a simple, standard, way for authors to cite others is a good thing. And to quickly indicate the kind of citation — are you quoting or paraphrasing, or giving credit to someone else who sparked a thought? Standardization may be a good answer. It could even lead to better machine parsing of interconnections between blog posts, tweets, Facebook, etc. — if adopted.

Update 13 March 2012: There’s an interesting contrarian view at The Brooks Review.

Mr. RSS Goes to Washington

Have you seen the just-relaunched Take a moment and look: on Inauguration Day
(Click for larger image)

From the tone of the welcome message from the White House’s Director of New Media, this blog is intended to be relatively informal. It’s clearly a “new media” site — aimed at an entirely more connected audience than the past version.
If you look closely at the image, you’ll see a very prominent weblog — just below the picture, on the left. Not just a blog, but an RSS-enabled blog. And — this makes my little RSS heart go pitter-pat — the HTML source of the blog post shows that there is not just one RSS feed, but there are six. Here they are:

Now that’s a lot of RSS! (Although at the moment, the agenda, press, and video feeds appear to be empty.) And in case you want a single feed, here’s the RSS4Lib all-in-one feed, via Yahoo! Pipes.

Blogging the Iowa Floods

The University of Iowa launched a flood blog to inform students, faculty, staff, and the public about the flooding on the Iowa City campus. The University of Iowa Flooding Blog provides a strong example of web technologies to aid in communication during a disaster. Linked from the blog are Flickr photostreams of campus images, a headlines feed from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and, of course, updates and news about campus, buildings currently flooded or currently at risk, where there is power, what is open, and what is closed.

LJ Article on Librarians who Blog

Meredith Farkas (Information Wants To Be Free) has an article summarizing her recent survey of the biblioblogosphere in the December 15 issue of Library Journal. In The Bloggers Among Us, she summarizes her findings about who is blogging (by age, librarians over the age 40 are the fastest-growing segment; by professional niche, public service librarians are the most populous segment), and what they blog about (libraries and services, sure, but also hobbies, personal lives — and the intersections among these topics).
The article is a good read and might help librarians convince a skeptical management that not only are library and librarian blogs increasingly common, but they are often viewed (in academic circles, where such things matter more) as publications. As Meredith notes, “Blogging can be a great leveler, too. People are judged more by their ideas than their résumés, so anyone can make a name for him/herself. Also, blogging can build a bridge for those geographically isolated from other (or like-minded) librarians.” I would add, blogging can also build a bridge from the library to the geographically isolated patron.

Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting

There is a movement afoot to encourage and support “serious” blogging in science. Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting [BPR3] is a group of scientists who have made a step in this direction by releasing a set of icons that scientists are invited to include in their blog posts when “they’re making a serious post about peer-reviewed research.”
BPR3 is an initial effort to encourage scientists to identify their commentary on peer-reviewed research articles — whether the article is online or in print — with an icon. The next step, according to BPR3’s web site, is “to use to aggregate all the posts discussing peer-reviewed research from across the disciplines.” If this effort succeeds it could well open up new doors to scholarly debate and discussion.
Why does this matter? Well, as was first brought to my attention at the ASIS&T panel discussion on Opening Science to All: Implications of Blogs and Wikis for Social and Scholarly Scientific Communication, there is a great deal of communication, debate, and discussion of scientific research within the blogosphere. However, unlike letters to the editor in peer-reviewed journals, there is no standard method to capture, collect, or forum for evaluating the opinions of blogging scientists. To the extent that research — and discussion of research — moves into the public sphere, there is a great opportunity for the scientific community to add to and discuss research as it happens.

Update 2013-08-26: The Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting is no long avaialable, so I’ve removed the links to

The Photogosphere

As noted in my previous post, I’m attending a conference in Columbus, Ohio. While getting my morning coffee, I noticed a photograph on the auditorium wall. This hundred-year-old photo struck me as a particularly apt visual metaphor for the blogosphere:

Photography class in front of Orton Hall, 1908
Image from The Ohio State University Archives.

Look carefully. Here we have photographers, the ‘bloggers’ of the early 20th century, documenting their surroundings. But what are they actually doing? They’re taking pictures of each other. And someone (the metablogger?) is taking a picture of the lot of them. It’s the photogosphere! Each photographer is creating something unique by building — in a very literal sense — on the work of other photographers. And isn’t that, at least in large part, what we bloggers do?

Public Schools and RSS

The Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle School in La Quinta, California, is using RSS and podcasts to keep parents in touch with the day’s activities. There’s a podcast of the morning announcements. Some teachers are recording information about tests and how-to tips for students and parents. And other teachers are using RSS to let parents know about their child’s homework assignments.
I wonder how many public school libraries could help — or already are helping — their school by providing this sort of infrastructure?

Library of Congress Blog

The granddaddy of American libraries has become one with its multitudinous siblings descendants: the Library of Congress now has its very own weblog. The blog’s author, Matt Raymond, writes that his blog’s mission will “be in keeping with the spirit of the Library’€™s mission as a whole: ‘to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.'”

I noted with interest that the blog’s author, Matt Raymond, is the library’s Director of Communications and a journalist by education. Although I’d find professional and personal interest in a librarian blogger’s perspective on the library, I’m impressed that the Library of Congress has decided to use blogs and RSS as a communications and marketing tool. Welcome to the biblioblogosphere!

Library Feedback through a Weblog

Ever thought about opening up your patron feedback system to users through a weblog? The University of Chicago library has done just that with their Maroon Suggestions blog.
Patron suggestions are accepted through a library feedback form. The suggestions, and the library’s response, are posted on the blog. This is a great adaptation of the suggestion boards that I’ve seen in libraries all over — and makes the questions (and answers) available to patrons even when they’re not at the library. There is even a detailed FAQ to provide information about the service.

[Via the Web4lib listserv.]

University of Michigan Library Blogs

The University of Michigan libraries are publishing a number of weblogs — ranging from library news to “Have you read…?” from the Shapiro undergraduate library.
Even more interesting than the library blogs is the underpinnings of the blogging environment. MBlog is managed by the University Library and the Bentley Historical Library, the University’s archives. When a member of the UM community creates a blog, he or she has the opportunity to request that the weblog be considered for long-term preservation and access through the Bentley Library’s collection.
This is a great step. The archives is responsible for documenting the formal and informal life of the university. Providing a way for community members to make their blogs available for long-term archiving is a boon to future scholars. And by getting the OK from bloggers up front, the University of Michigan is ensuring that they have permission to keep and republish the blogs they archive. This attention to copyright is critical to the long-term preservation of this important facet of intellectual life on campus.
Update 6/26/07 — Why didn’t somebody tell me I fat-fingered “University” in the title and had it as “Univeristy”? Fixed.