OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 03/26/2012 By Mark Glaser & Desiree Everts

Can best practices take hold for aggregation, curation?

There have been plenty of accusations flying in the media industry over the past few years concerning over-aggregation and excerpting content without enough attribution. In response, Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco recently announced a new group at SXSW Interactive called the Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation. “O.K., you can almost hear the digerati seizing with laughter at the idea that a pew full of journalism church ladies is somehow going to do battle with the entire Internet,” wrote The New York Times’ David Carr. “But Mr. Dumenco compares his effort to the editorial rules promulgated by the American Society of Magazine Editors, which have come to shape how magazines distinguish editorial from advertising.” Dumenco also supports another effort from Brain Picking’s Maria Popova and designer Kelli Anderson called the Curator’s Code, which will use symbols to express a “hat tip” or that a piece of content came from another source.

But are such efforts capable of creating best practices for aggregation and curation? Many in the media industry were skeptical following the announcement, with WebProNews’ Chris Crum saying he doesn’t see it working on a mass scale. “In theory, it sounds like a reasonable cause, and a way to keep ‘aggregators’ and ‘curators’ honest, but execution might be a different story,” he explained.  paidContent’s Staci Kramer agreed: “We need another council like we need another bad infograhic—and there’s nothing journalists and bloggers…dislike more than being told how and what to do,” she wrote. Others insisted that the writers who care are already doing it right already. “Look, what Dumenco is trying to do is simply to codify ‘how to blog without being a huge prick’ guidelines that all decent online writers already know,” Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan said. “In other words, for the writers who care about this issue, such a group is unnecessary; for writers who don’t care about this issue, such a group will have no influence. Therefore such a group is worthless.” GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram agreed: “In the end, this is a cultural thing, not something that can be legislated or imposed, either by a code or by inscrutable symbols.”