In 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 http://pinterest.com/cdnguy68