BitDepth#826 - March 20

Pinterest might be great for photographers or it might not, but really, it's a service that's seamstress made for the ladies.
The OMG web
Pinterest’s content and style favour women users, but everyone is welcome to pin.

If Livejournal and Blogger ushered in the Read-Write web, then the dominating influence of Facebook has led to the “aw gee” web, an orgy of sharing and liking of comments, images and web links that threatens to bury old school protocols like FTP and e-mail in a surge of uplifted thumbs.

Don’t interpret that as a blanket dismissal of content curated by a mass audience. I’ve liked a thing or two myself using Facebook’s ubiquitous graphic of a thumbs up and, frankly, sought such approving pass-alongs for my content with all the reserve and decorum of a streetwalker.

There’s no doubt that approvals from a critical mass of influential web denizens can be as effective as a mass medium advertising campaign and even more efficient at targeting exactly the people who will be interested in what you’ve got to say or view.

Facebook leads at this game, not least because it largely invented it, but there’s a new player drawing a lot of interest, or rather, more accurately, Pinterest.
The new service, available as an option within Facebook, where I found it and online as a more fully featured product, is soon to be rolled out as an iPad app.

The notion is simple and familiar. You sign up with Pinterest, still a dicey proposition since the service exploded recently from a marginal 10,000 users in its the nine months after its launch in 2009 to today’s estimated 11 million users.
If you get an invite, then you create boards, pages onto which you collect themed pins. As a simple and still somewhat befuddled pinner, I’ve got just one board with four pins, each for themes I find interesting and worth referencing, such as photography and movies.

You then download a bookmarklet, a tiny bit of code that shows up in the bookmarks bar of your browser as a link that you click when you’re on a page with content you want to keep and share.
In some ways, Pinterest is a bit like Twitter, a more fully formed and focused version of a popular Facebook feature refined for an audience that wants to do just that without being distracted by anything else.

If Twitter turned Facebook’s once turgid status updates into a fast moving stream of snippy comments and truncated links, Pinterest turns “liked” content into, well, a scrapbook.
It’s no surprise then that the service has proven wildly popular with female users and the streams of Pinterest are rich with fashionable items and home interiors. Of the first twelve people to follow my meagre pins, all but one is female.

The delicate pastel hues of the Pinterest site and the well, girly content, have led to at least one bit of amusing backlash.
Manteresting site travels the same course, but is all gunmetal grays, woodworking and handguns. Content is nailed, not pinned.

The biggest Pinterest backlash though, has come from the photographers and copyright holders of all the content that’s being pinned so exuberantly.
Photographer Kirsten Kowalski wrote an eloquent explanation of why she tore down her pinboards on
her blog and Selina Maitreya, a career consultant to photographers recently cancelled a planned Pinterest project.

Pinterest, as part of its terms of service (ToS), forcefully shoves responsibility for copyright clearance for pinned content back to its users. If you pin something and the owner of the content objects and sues, the company has already declared that it isn’t responsible, you pay to defend yourself and Pinterest. The same ToS grants Pinterest a license to any work you do pin which you happen to own or control.

A new commenting feature might put some distance between Pinterest and lawsuits, turning pins into commented posts, but the T0S seems to be manifestly unfair at its core.
The legalese also seems iffy, seeking as it does to have its cake and to eat it and remains untested in a court of law, but the terms seem to contrast quite sharply with the homely, welcoming feel of the site and users should exercise appropriate caution.

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