Pinterest: It took a while, but I get it. Finally.

Pinterest LogoIn many respects (for those who subscribe to such things), I am a typical Taurus, and stubborn as hell. I admit that there are times when I will resist trying new things until I know I can see the benefits for me. Once I “get it”, however, I’m unstoppable.

That paragraph accurately sums up my experience with Twitter. While initially skeptical, I have now – as most of you know – embraced the tool enthusiastically because I see the value from a personal and professional point of view. A secondary benefit is, of course, the entertainment value.

And then came Pinterest…

When Pinterest first came out, I jumped on the public Beta and saw some interesting things, but at the time, I realized there was only so much DIY/Crafts/Architecture I could handle on a socially-connected basis. Sure, there was a “neat” factor, but it didn’t seem ground-breaking and I also didn’t see the immediate benefit to my ongoing professional development. Following a recent discussion with Melissa Venable (another late adopter of Pinterest) I figured sharing these new revelations might be beneficial.

In a lot of respects I am treating Pinterest the way I was treating Evernote; a repository for cool things I know I shouldn’t lose track of. Because its an intensely visual medium it works for me on a number of levels (and clearly does for others).

At this stage I find it (almost) more engaging than Twitter because I can get immediate access to things like informatics and other resources for L&D at a glance, rather than through what I’ll term “secondary access” through a link posted in Twitter. A small thing, yes, but any ease of access has to be worthy of something.

The other aspect of Pinterest that intrigues me is the insight I get into what people like sharing. Again, this is much easier to discern than through some forensic view of their Tweets. The built-in categorization aids this process immensely. As a mechanism for community-building, I think this feature could prove invaluable.

Where Pinterest does fall short is a symptom of its image-driven format. I find it quite difficult to share links to sites with PDF documents or other really interesting text. For example, I came across an excellent blog post shared by Janet Symmons and figured I could just “pin it”. Because Pinterest tries to extract or locate images from the page in question, it makes text-heavy site sharing problematic at best. As notes above, sharing a direct link to a PDF may fail if Pinterest cannot locate a suitable image file to display.

Having said that, I feel confident that the nearly exponential growth of the platform will drive some meaningful changes. While its still up to the user/consumer to filter out what they want, the community sharing of resources – both meaningful and superficial – means that Pinterest is a real winner if harnessed effectively. As a consumer as self-directed sponge for new ideas and concepts, this kind of environment seems tailor-made.

It will definitely be interesting to see how Pinterest evolves and whether that evolution is influencing other social services/platforms or is changing to “fit in” and tap into their user bases.


NOTE: My Pinterest page is


5 thoughts on “Pinterest: It took a while, but I get it. Finally.

  1. This is helpful. Thanks for sharing your perspective and offering some encouragement to keep at it. I particularly like your take on the categorization of information/pins – it does offer a new way to view each user’s range of interests. I haven’t found a “place” for Pinterest, yet, but I think it’s there somewhere.

    • Thanks for sharing this counterpoint on Pinterest. You’re definitely right that there’s no shortage of copyright abuse happening out there. Clearly there’s still awareness required on the differentiation between “public access” and “public domain”…to say nothing of Creative Commons. You’ve given me much to think about.

  2. I concede I still don’t get it. At first I thought it was like a visual Twitter, now I think it’s more like a visual Delicious. If so, I kinda get it, but don’t see how pretty pictures trump the other two established platforms. Unless of course the pictures *are* the point? (eg photography)

    • Thanks for your comment, Ryan. At this stage I’m really just using it for my own PD because I know there’s no viable means to use something like this in a military setting (unless someone comes up with a “behind the firewall” version with all the necessary security apparatus…). I do like the fact that I get access to infographics that I don’t really see anywhere else, as well as images accompanying blogs that may be of interest. Again, it seems to be a very personal construct for use.

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