Kittens. Positano. Eighteenth century wedding dresses. Craft tutorials. Wacky family portraits. Nutella.
The Pinterest website is a sort of Portobello Road of web images. You can find anything here, including (and maybe especially) things you never dreamed you’d see or knew existed. Pinterest helps you save images you find online that you want to have on file in one convenient location.
Some of the images I have collected on Pinterest.
This is how it works: once you have registered on the site (they call it an invitation, but all you have to do is ask), you create virtual boards similar to a bulletin board you would have in your home or office. You can create the board before you add any images, or as you go along and get ideas. My first board, before I even started, was “Places I’d Like to Go,” followed quickly by “60s Dress Designs” and “Home Ideas.” I then searched the site for images that related to those boards and selected images I liked to put on them. You can also pin images from the web at large by telling Pinterest which website you want to pull an image from, or by using a special pin button you can install in your bookmark links.
Pinterest is a social site as well, and encourages interaction among users by suggesting people for you to follow based on the things you tell it you are interested in. It also uses Facebook to find your friends who use the site and connect you with them. You can “like” or comment on any pin, or tag a friend if you want to bring a pin to her attention.
This has been an interesting experiment for me. I was originally trying to use Evernote this way — the site description promised me I could copy and save web images in my notes, but that feature never worked me. When a friend suggested Pinterest, I realized quickly that this was more like it. Thousands of images at my fingertips, updated daily, with the ones I chose arranged neatly on little boards! I am a very visual person, so keeping ideas in front of my eyes has been endlessly entertaining, if maybe a bit too addictive. The site was recently updated to make it more user-friendly, and so far I am enjoying the new features, especially the new “geek” category.
So, as promised, here are the pleasures and pitfalls:
Pleasures. Pictures, pictures, pictures, of anything and everything. Things I want to remember, to refer to later, to ponder and develop into new ideas. Pinterest has really opened up the internet to me; since every pin relays back to the website on which it was originally posted, I have discovered a lot of depth in my interest areas that was previously unknown. My art, fashion and food bookmarks on my browser have exploded. It also connects me to scores of people who are interested in the same things I am, while letting me explore some things that are new. I have tried one of the recipes on my food board (the strawberry greek yogurt cake) and will be making white chocolate s’mores bars for a party this weekend. On the work front, Pinterest has been extremely valuable for stocking up on ideas for graphic design projects. Interestingly, having so many images I like in place has shown me that I do have an identifiable style. Nice to know.
Pitfalls. Oh my goodness, I had no idea how addictive this site would become. It is so hard to rip my eyes away from all the pretty stuff! I actually have to set a time limit now, or a couple of hours can go by without me noticing. Another peril is that you have to be careful when you are browsing or searching images; not all pins are PG, or even PG-13. I haven’t run into anything really bad yet, but questionable has happened several times. It also might not be good for your diet (what with all the dessert photos, many featuring the above-mentioned Nutella), but you can always turn to the many motivational photos if you need support!
There’s a popular pin making the rounds that says something to the effect of Pinterest helping you feel creative while helping you avoid actually creating anything. I have certainly experienced this, but I have to say that since I started using it, the steady stream of visuals has really helped me feel more creative. That’s half the battle, isn’t it?