A few weeks ago, a friend posted something to Facebook from a site I wasn’t familiar with: Pinterest. The post in question was a wonderful photograph of a wall of bookshelves filled to the rafters with various texts. Like many academics, I love books; I love libraries, and I love photographs of both books and libraries, so I had to see where this photograph came from.
Enter Pinterest. Pinterest is an electronic bulletin board that allows users to pin images from around the web onto one communal space. Users can manage several different categories on their boards, and you can use either the default categories (eg. “For the Home,” “Recipes,” “Quotes,” etc.) or create your own.
Users can limit their views to only pins that they themselves have contributed, they can “follow” other users and see those pins in addition to their own, or they can also browse everything that has been posted on the site by all users. In addition, like Facebook, users can “Like” pins posted by other users and leave comments.
Pinterest also offers a bookmarklet that users can install on their web browser, which makes pinning to the site from other web pages incredibly easy. Simply put, if you see an image that you want to pin, all you have to do is click on the “Pin It” bookmarklet, and a window will open in your browser, allowing you to assign the pinned item to a category and add any hashtags or comments to the image before you pin it. Once the image is pinned you have the option of going to Pinterest to see the pinned item or returning to the original site.
While I have found Pinterest to be fun way to pass time, I’ve also been using it to collect ideas for my home office (I desperately need to make it more functional and less cluttered), to gather recipes, and as a place to get inspired for various creative DIY projects.
Be aware that the site does reserve the right to terminate accounts of users who violate the terms of service (the big ones to note are “No Nudity” and “Credit your sources"--if a user pins a copyrighted image and the site is notified of the copyright violation, the image will be removed).
While there is currently no dedicated iPad app, there is a Pinterest app for the iPhone that not only lets you browse the boards, but it also lets users pin pictures taken on the phone directly to the site. You can use the iPhone app on an iPad but with the usual limitations of iPhone-only applications installed on iPads: namely, users are forced to chose between either a very small picture or granulated larger one.
If you are interested in joining Pinterest, you can request an invitation (it took less than 24 hours from my request to my invite).
Have you used Pinterest or a similar social tool for sharing images or links? Let’s hear from you in the comments.