Popova on Curator's Code reaction: 'When did we, as a community, make this kind of behavior acceptable?'

.net | Brain Pickings

Speaking to .net magazine, Maria Popova said she doesn't love the word "curation" but that  "I fundamentally believe the act at the heart of 'curation' – a drive to find the interesting, meaningful, and relevant amidst the vast maze of overabundant information, creating a framework for what matters in the world and why – is an increasingly valuable form of creative and intellectual labour, and recognising this warrants a conversation."

Careful what you wish for.

On her blog Monday, after five blockquotes from Albert Einstein, Popova describes the hornet's nest she inadvertently kicked with the "Curator's Code" she and Kelli Anderson unveiled on March 9. She writes about discussing with a friend "how profoundly disappointed we were in a portion of the design community, who chose not only to misinterpret both the practical implications and, far more importantly and tragically, the spirit of the project, but also to respond to their own misconceptions with venom and mean-spirited derision rather than constructive feedback."

When did we, as a community, make this kind of behavior acceptable? I’ve gotten dozens of personal emails bemoaning these responses, their tone and their intention, but, publicly, we’ve been tacitly taking it in full stride. This — this bullying, these personal attacks, this sad case of ganged-up mob mentality — is not okay.

The source of Popova's chagrin is an immutable Newtonian law: For every action that makes news in The New York Times, there is a swift and merciless opposite reaction. Her good-natured proposal that the Internet should agree on a sort of Esperanto of links, one that will definitively reward the first person to share a piece of content, triggered two sorts of negative reactions: Derision from people who worry about the meaning of curation, and derision from people who need to squeeze out a blog post. Popova says the tenor of the reaction surprises her, which makes me wonder if she's hooked up to the same Internet I am.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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