As others have pointed out beautifully, the dopey Curator’s Code—an attempt to codify how writers should reference other writers they use as sources—at best solves problems that don’t really exist. The important thing is that writers want credit when their research or reporting is referenced; good writers make those references as a general practice.
I was honored this week to be referenced twice in about twenty-four hours by The New York Times. I was bummed to note that I wasn’t actually referenced—at least, not by name or by link—in either case.
First came David Pogue’s review of the new iPad. Writes Pogue:
There’s another price you’ll pay for all this clarity, too: in storage. Tests performed by Macworld.com revealed that the graphics in Retina-ready apps consume two to three times as much of the iPad’s nonexpandable storage than pre-Retina apps. To update their apps for the new display, software companies must redo their graphics at much higher resolution, which means much larger files.
(Worse, each app is usually written in single, universal version for all iPad models. So those apps will eat up the same extra space, pointlessly, on older iPads, too—and even on iPhones, since many apps are written to run on both the tablet and the phone. In other words, iPhone owners, too, will wind up losing storage space because of this graphic-bloat ripple-down effect.)
Pogue’s link is to Macworld.com’s homepage. But I believe he must be referencing one or both of these two pieces:
Both of those stories reference the fact that Retina-ready images are generally two to three times larger than their non-Retina counterparts, and that they cause app sizes to swell. The first story, in particular, dives into the issues raised in Pogue’s parenthetical at length. Oh, and both of those stories sport my byline.
Now, I wasn’t the first or the only person to identify these points. But Pogue clearly references Macworld as his source, and yet he (or his editor) chose only to link to Macworld’s homepage, and not the fully qualified link to his reference. That’s disappointing.
And this was just one of two New York Times stories that seemingly drew upon at least some Friedman inspiration without explicit reference. The second was pointed out to me by my friend, colleague, and inspiration Glenn Fleishman:
In truth, the Times could have researched, written, and published on iTunes Store account and credit thefts without ever reading my piece on same. (I call the topic in question The Towson Hack.) But it strikes me as very unlikely.
My story on The Towson Hack is very Google-able. If you read through the entire Apple forum linked in both my article (from September 2011) and the Times’s (from March 2012), you’ll find posts from me—including my request for comments from folks affected by the hack, and a link to my published story. In other words, it’s impossible to read through the entire thread and not see my story. And I imagine you have to read through the entire thread to get a clear picture for researching a story on the Towson Hack. At least, I did.
I have tons of respect for Mr. Pogue’s writing, and for one-time Macworldian Brian X. Chen, who co-authored the iTunes story with Evelyn M. Rusli, whom I don’t know of but assume is also a fine writer. I don’t ascribe any maliciousness to any of the writers involved for failing to reference my stories. But I do find it disappointing.
Update: Mr. Chen told me via Twitter that neither he nor Ms. Rusli saw my story on the Towson Hack before publishing, and that they "don't hesitate to link when others are our origin of info." Thanks, Brian!