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Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

— pinterest web site www.pinterest.com


A rich, elegant display of very good quality photographs and other graphic images, organized by your interests. A bit on the television (NBC's Today Show) said that working it is child's play. A magazine article discusses how lush the display turns out to be... Usually I find that when a new Internet site seems too good to be true, it is. Well, pinterest indeed works smoothly. It's insanely easy to use. And the way it handles all sorts of images is just superb.

My major concern was about how smoothly such an image-rich site would work, especially with the older machines in our home and office. Our eleven-year-old HP Pentium 4 running Windows XP has taken quite nicely to it (and the thing slows down, these days, at the drop of a hat). Photos and text display equally well on my laptop's screen and on the humongous flat-screen in our home office.

So Easy It's Child's Play

To begin, one requests an invitation. It seems to me that the wait (one day, for me) for the invitation to come back does a number of good things for the site. It'll keep folks out who hate waiting so much they just won't follow-up (could this reduce the number of accounts signed up which then lay dormant after a day or so's use?). Also, in the world of advertising and promotion, sometimes a little cachet, a little feeling of exclusivity, increases the interest (perceived need) of people in your product. Look at Studio 54.

Once you click-through the URL in the invitation you receive, you enter a screen name, your own name, and a password and you're in. It then prompts you to set up "pin-boards" organized by your interests. It even asks you to offer up a few generalized interests so it can find stuff to suggest to you. I selected "Food & Beverages" and "Photography." The final thing to do is to install a "Pin It" button on your browser. You use this to collect images to "pin" under your various categories. Pinterest need not be running to use the Pin It button to capture a graphic and store it in the program.

So I set to work. It's all about visuals (with snippets of text). One of the first things I found frustrating was that I found a delightful photo of a recipe I'd like to try, but there's no recipe attached. It appears that I'd have to message/email the original poster (or "pinner") of the photo to get a recipe.

Is it Social Networking or a Personal Organizer?

It's both. I can see myself sending images that don't personally interest me to other members of the website. In fact, there's a photo that I'm going to email to a friend of mine who's a tattoo artist who doesn't belong to the site.

More appealing to me, however, is the idea that it'll help me organize images from the web. I often hesitate before saving a web image I find interesting because I typically rarely go back over them nor use them. Furthermore, they're not organized (yes, I know, you wanna tell me about file folders on my hard drive). With the Pinterest website, I'll have all of the images that I enjoy stored on-line so I can access them from any of the four computers I use during the week. And because it's apparently unlimited on-line storage, I don't have to worry about filling up a drive or other storage device. And they're organized roughly by category, which will help me 'cause I'm naturally a slob. In fact, Pinterest is great for me 'cause when "pinning" one must assign a category so I can't help but be organized.

Everything2 is all about a collection of writing. Pinterest is a collection of images. There's something sublime about the simplicity of a collection of images organized by category. Pinterest's promotional blurbs push it as a planning tool (weddings, parties, holiday decorations, travel). Well, consider me "fascinated." Let's see how the thing pans out.

The Fine Print

Pinterest admits that they will, eventually, do something to earn money. Advertising may rear its ugly head. But, they explain, right now they wanna see it work. The site is so well-planned and well-designed, it looks like someone's invested an awful lot of money in it. The site contains a tab called "Team" which displays the names and photographs of the site's employees, and lists investors and their companies. The site's offices are in Palo Alto, California.

An "Etiquette" tab advises not to represent someone else's work as your own. It also warns that there's no nudity allowed. Perhaps they think there's enough pornography on the internet, but if they're going to attract the kind of hip, edgy artists they want to, I think that perhaps they should trust their members to weed out the junk. A system is in place to immediately report any "pin" as being inappropriate.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go check out some of my favorite websites and pin some stuff to my pinterest boards. Let's see if I'm still interested in a month...

Find it at http://www.pinterest.com

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