I have caved to Pinterest. I opened a Beta account early on, thinking to use it in my work for 4Culture, King County’s cultural arts organization. So much of what we do is visual and so many of us in the office are visually oriented that it felt like a natural. And Pinterest had the fun factor – it seemed likely to turn into a social media space that might serve us. But I thought I’d watch and see before I committed time and resources to it, believing that it’s better to maintain fewer social media sites well than to spread oneself thinly across the social space and then have no time to be social. So I watched as Pinterest exploded in its Beta world, became a part of conversation and started showing up on Twitter and Facebook.
The controversy over copyright issues made me glad that I had waited. I couldn’t see that I would spend hours composing boards (time better spent for me in the studio – though the making of artful boards helps explain Pinterest’s popularity), but I did think it would be a handy mechanism for aggregating reference lists, and since I am so visually oriented I could see how scanning a board would be easier than running down a list of links and notes on a spread sheet or word document.
I continued to have worries about copyright – how uncool was it to post things online without permission of the content originator? But then I read an article that compared the site’s copyright issues with YouTube (sadly, I cannot site this article – trust me) and I had a context for how to think about the Pinterest model. Though YouTube content is posted expressly for sharing, and there are settings that allow for limiting that sharing, when it first launched I avoided YouTube for exactly the reasons I was avoiding Pinterest. While I was waiting for the copyright issues to resolve, social use exploded; and while there has been an evolution in YouTube’s content policy the site has not come down or been overcome by lawsuits. YouTube has become embedded in the fabric of internet use.
I decided that I wanted to experience Pinterest for myself before I rode my high horse out of town, so I sent an invitation to myself and opened an account – and I find that Pinterest is everything I thought it would be, and is quickly becoming indispensable. It’s incredibly easy to use – create your board in your account, download the Pin It button to your browser bar and you are good to go. If you find yourself on a page that you would like to reference or has an image you’d like to find again, click on the Pin It button, select from the images available on that page, as well as the board you’d like to add it to, and you are done. Clicking on that image will take you back to the original page, so for research Pinterest is dreamy. The site also drives traffic back to the site of origin, so the marketing benefits are obvious.
Will I incorporate Pinterest into the social media program of the arts organization I work for? I’m thinking on it. Would it be a fantastic mechanism for sharing and spreading the goodness in the Public Art collection and the many projects and institutions we support? Absolutely.
I can see a time when capturing and aggregating online sites and content will be incorporated into the workflow of creating documents and media – in the not too distant future. This mechanism will be folded into the normal workflow of the desktop. Social sharing stand-alone sites and their accompanying issues will seem clunky and quaint. In the meantime I’m having fun with it. Let me know if you’d like an invitation – I live to serve.