I wrote these words and made this poster, just for fun, to put up on the popular photo(and video!)-sharing site Pinterest.com. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest yet, welcome to our planet.
If you’re not from outer space but Pinterest has eluded you, allow me to sum up the fuss: Pinterest is the Wikipedia of search. Pinterest users have already filtered the Internet; they post their hard-won nuggets on the site. Google only has an algorithm; Pinterest has humans. Imagine, the massive ocean of data online, picked through by live people. (Personally, I find the search function especially useful when it comes to obscure crafts or DIY instructions.)
In a communication from Pinterest that went out late last year, the founders said they had no idea how viral the site would go. I can’t imagine the founders were that innocent; Pinterest had no other destiny but to go viral. Normal people want sites to “just work.” That is normalese for “Intuitive design/function is the fundamental necessity of a website,” and this site gets it. Pinterest is beautifully arranged, is easy to use, has simple user organization, employs no-brainer sharing options and fills a dire need that is lacking online: human input (read: filtering). Viral it was going to be, no matter what.
Pinterest, like all other sharing sites, has its growing pains, its quirky trends, its buggy tendencies (nothing months and months of all-nighter coding and a crapton of investor dollars can’t fix!). At first, the site was filled with early adopters, designers, and Internet denizens. On second look, it’s filled with moms the world over pinning everything from recipes to punk hairstyles to sarcastic quips. The etiquette at Pinterest is just forming. Some users consider posting photos that don’t properly attribute the creator a big no-no. Others just want to collect appropriate themed pins to their boards and don’t care from whence the media came.
Probably most annoying user on Pinterest is the marketing type. These types come in all disguises. Some are Etsy sellers (“Don’t steal my idea!”), some are merchandisers (“Zomg! It’s only $79.99! at our store!”), and some are stealthy ad agency workers scoping out how this new service can reach the masses. Their self-promoting behavior has yet to take over the entire site, but the “Gifts” tab is in serious danger of becoming little more relevant than those silly Sunday circular ads in the newspaper. The “Everything” tab [every picture every member posts] also will soon come to ruin; I’ve already heard grumblings from users about the porn that regularly pops up there.
The site’s designers have a long way ahead. They need to keep a hold of the mom crowd (even the stay-at-home-moms in my neighborhood who barely know how to power up a machine are on Pinterest now) to stay afloat. But without some more solid code and some tighter filtering, the moms (who will be Pinterest’s main money maker) will drop the site like its covered in germs. I can’t wait to see how the founders hustle to catch up to the viral wave that has swept Google search and the nation.
Are you on Pinterest? What’s your favorite board? Let me know in the comments!