March 21st, 2012
Unfortunately, Popova has responded not so much by addressing the points people have made – be they about why the term 'curation' is inappropriate or about how unsuitable obscure Unicode symbols are as substitutes for the phrases 'Hat Tip' or 'Via' at the end of a post – but by spending three quarters of her post quoting paragraph-long passages from the essays of Albert Einstein on 'the ties of sympathy', 'public opinion', 'our interconnectedness, interdependency, and shared existence', 'good and evil, creative bravery, and human value', and 'life's highest ideals' before alluding to the way that some commenters have responded to her suggestion with 'venom and mean-spirited derision' before pivoting away from the substance of the arguments being made about her project and talking instead about how unacceptable cruelty is and how disappointed she is in many of those who have criticised her suggestion.
To be clear: Maria Popova is perfectly entitled to be offended and upset at criticism she feels to be other than 'constructive' and to call out the community accordingly.2 For what it's worth, I don't think that most of the commentary she linked to (or that I've seen for myself elsewhere) was particularly aggressive or derogatory or bullying. Sceptical as to the benefits of her suggested approach? For sure. Put off by what they saw as the misapplication of the term 'curation'? Absolutely. But with one exception3 they weren't particularly personal or bullying, let alone 'sinister'. But I also recognise that I've almost certainly seen only a small portion of the total response, and in any case it's not my call to make; if Popova felt attacked then of course it's for her to respond as she sees fit. I'm just finding it really hard to square the discussion that I saw going on in various corners of the web with the vicious debate Popova is describing.
It's a shame that she devotes so much space in her post to inspirational quotations and so little to addressing the arguments people made in response to her suggestion, given that she's making a post on the same site where she announced the launch of the Code? Why accuse critics of factual inaccuracies but not address them right there?
To be fair, Popova does mention and link to one site where there's some discussion of the pros and cons of her idea, but it's mostly commentary from third parties and the comments from her that they cite only addresses the issues to the extent that she argues that the Curator's Code site (which, remember, offers bookmarklets for download, all set for users to install so that
[Via swissmiss. Given the context, I can't believe that I forgot to add a 'Via' block to my first draft of this post!]
- See my post on the subject here, and a trio of posts at Pop Loser including links to some of the commentary elsewhere here, here and here. ↩
- And, to clarify still further, I'm not writing this because I feel that she's directly, or even implicitly, criticising what I wrote about her proposal. First because I'm approximately 99.753% certain that she'll never have noticed what I wrote, and second because I don't think I was in any way venomous or mean-spirited in my post. If you think otherwise, please tell me so. ↩
- A tweet linking to an extremely juvenile animated .GIF. Which is at best an impolite but snarky comment on the amount of intellectual masturbation going on over this topic – to which I plead guilty to adding my portion right here in this post! – and is not anyone's idea of a civil contribution to the debate. But it's also atypical of the level of commentary out there. ↩