Digital World

If you’re one of the million+ who have signed up to Pinterest in the past few months, you know about the eye candy. The phenomenal growth is due to women (80% of the present participants) who are resonating with what is essentially online scrapbooking.

It’s the new social media hula hoop, with thoughtful reporters and marketing execs twittering away about the possibilities. Sandra M. Jones of the Chicago Tribune described it on Feb. 5th this way: “The site is in essence an idea factory, where individuals create their own set of virtual display boards, ‘pin’ photos of things that inspire them and share them with friends and followers.”

It takes about a day to sign up and get the invitation, then you just stumble around websites and link photos & graphs & stuff. Here’s an example of its effect on women: “I was going to be productive today but then I got on Pinterest” is one of the “pins” that Deb Thompson, (who has 519 followers) pinned to her “Words Words Words” board.

The Pinterest mission is unabashedly focused on personal pastimes: “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.” Like recipes, wedding ideas, & shoe styles. Amanda DiSilvestro of suggests that businesses would be wise to use it for visibility, but also allow interaction with their products. She said: “People not only have the ability to pin things they see onto their Pinterest boards, but they can comment on photos, like photos, and follow certain subjects or certain people. In other words, the site has a definitely social media feel.”

Then there are the rest of us who just don’t frequent craft stores. One of my market research colleagues recently said: “Oh no! One more platform…” At first I dismissed it as another vanity site, and was frankly uncomfortable spending my time gliding through blithe images of fancy. I felt like a Doberman in a group of French poodles – too much on dessert and no red meat. Then I started using it, just pinning a few of my personal favorites and saw a stranger give me my first “repin” from an NPR photo featuring all the books written about Abe Lincoln. I started thinking that just because it’s full of flowers and hairstyles doesn’t mean I couldn’t push my own agenda.

A logical use would be politics. Search for the candidates, like Ron Paul, and get a lot of videos, photos, yard signs and little-known facts, such as: “Ron Paul was the first and only person to hit a home run on the Congressional baseball team“ (courtesy Amanda Gann). When you search terms like “Democrats” “Republicans” and “Syria”, the photos, graphics and comments take you to thoughts and places you wouldn’t expect. Not so much like Google, which links to the factoids and top stories. For Syria, you can scroll through photos of ancient buildings, smiling children, flora, fauna and a bloodied button that says “Freedom for Syria”.

There doesn’t seem to be any censoring going on. I’m not sure if that’s important, but it is a stark contrast to what’s going on elsewhere. It certainly makes me wonder how this new online toy will mutate. Here’s my link: What do you think?

Photos from Pinterest posts.
Suz Korbel

Susan Korbel

Graduating in '71 from Cornell gave me a few unencumbered years of protesting, followed by 4 happy hipster grad student/worker years at U of Michigan, completing a Ph.D. in public administration. Followed a comedian to San Francisco, then my heart to Austin Texas to learn the TV business, dabbled in hot&heavy politics in DC, and returned to Austin & San Antonio, Texas to hone my political/media skills. I make my money conducting consumer and political opinion studies.