Had a pinteresting morning

Having never tried Pinterest, but with the ‘visual artefact’ in mind, this morning I signed up and had a play. Already, I can see the scope for compulsive collecting of images. I liked Pinterest’s need/option to choose five initial interests to spark the whole thing off. This afternoon, I got an email suggesting some more images for one of my boards and that set me off on another trail, and the setting up of a couple more boards. I feeling – well – if not hooked, at least involved.

In that light, here are two questions for other users:

First, does anyone any good advice on what I do with the images, beyond collecting them? I guess a short answer would be ‘whatever you want to do with them’. Behind the question, though, is an underlying one for education and digital cultures – how we nurture (in ourselves and others) the creative use of a multiplicity of tools, when life is short and attention spans sometimes seemingly not much shorter.

Second, does anyone know how Pinterest ‘works’? Is it simply a sum of its users contributions, or what? Behind this question lurks the ethical / political question of what the technology is doing, especially behind the scenes. I ate a banana for lunch, with (shamefully) barely a thought for the conditions of its cultivation and sale. I feel I risk the same empty-headed move with the multiplicity of technologies at my finger tips.

5 Replies to “Had a pinteresting morning”

  1. Matthew, Pinterest has always been a little bit uncomfortable to me. I get sucked into content I would never seriously consider engaging with, kind of like those trashy magazines at the till that you just think you’ll peruse while you wait. It’s only after the tongue clicking from the people behind you that you realsie you were totally engrossed in some celebrity’s weight-gain struggle.

    I find that in Pinterest one post leads to another, then another and before you know it, you’ve lost an hour of your time and the last item you viewed has nothing to do with the one you started looking for.

    I do think there is value if you like doing projects, from decorating your house to making themed holiday biscuits to arts and crafts. I’ve not really found anything hugely benificial for educational purposes unless those are the kinds of things you are teaching.

    One thing it could be used as is as an archive… but only if you find something worth pinning!

    1. Thank you for the reply, cpsaros. It’s come as I’m having a second pinteresting morning, as the emails flow from Pinterest with seemingly ever-increasing frequency, suggesting images to me. Your comments about ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘sucked into’ it chime with where I could see it going.

      Trying to think about it in a cultural-studies kind of way, I’m guessing there is an algorithm out there (wherever ‘there’ is) that is trying to read me, feed me. Thus, under ‘urbanscapes’, I’ve just been offered some pictures of my home city. I doubt that’s a coincidence, but I don’t think I told Pinterest where I’m from. Perhaps my email address gives that away.

      The Pinterest emails feed into that sense of being sucked into it – partly by my curiosity, partly by the trails of bread-crumbs I’m being fed. But am I being *fed*, or *being* fed? Am I me, or menu, in this? I’m guessing both, and both in complex and underseen ways.
      I’m reminded of this fascinating piece: https://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/.

      In trying to find that online, I’ve also come across the security risks of ‘like-farming’ on Facebook (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/komando/2016/03/04/dont-click-like-facebook-again-until-you-read/81264440/) – does anyone know if this is a real risk, or not? Can anyone know??

    2. cpsaros, you’re on the money with the getting sucked into content dynamic. The Pinterest emails are still flowing. Yesterday I got one from ‘them’inventing me to ‘explore this week’s trending searches’. The offer of “girls bedroom ideas, wedding hair and other search trends” was one I found easy to resist. I think their algorithm will have to try harder with me than that. I’ve started keeping the emails from them, to see how that unfolds.

    3. is there a term for when (e.g.) YouTube suggests one film to you after another, and gradually the trail gets grimier and grimier? Clearly my question assumes a certain user’s point of view, but I hope my description makes sense. If there’s not a term for it, can anyone invent one?

  2. I’ve never considered using Pinterest for course work but you have inspired me.
    I may give this a try,
    Eli

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