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If You Liked It, Then You Should Have Put A Pin In It

January 9, 2013

I just got engaged. And even though I’m not interested in starting any hardcore planning, I do have thoughts/ideas/curiosities/fantasies about what might take place some time down the road. So I figured that I might as well do what all newly engaged people seem to do to fritter away pent up ante-nuptial energies, and I joined Pinterest.

Pinterest calls itself a “virtual pinboard,” which lets users organize images, recipes and other things they find on the Web. Despite the fact that it was formed by three dudes, Pinterest seems (from my anecdotal experiences using it) to be populated almost exclusively by women (If you’re a fan of actual numbers, it has been reported that 83% of its users are female). I guess that comports with the ration of women to men who are actively involved in planning a wedding, but I have no doubt that there are economists far more capable than myself studying the question.

Another explanation may be that, at bottom, Pinterest seems to be about nesting (an activity associated with females as well). The central activity of Pinterest involves taking shiny things from one corner of the web or another pinner’s nest and adding it to one’s own. Once in the nest, the beautiful idea or product represents a call to action or inspiration, there to sit and stare you in the face, almost like the pinups an adolescent cuts out and pastes to their walls. The act of pinning is not so much active and involved as it is aspirational and reflective. Like the brightly colored, glossy magazines at the grocery store checkout, Pinterest allows users to bathe themselves in a fantasy that the images set before them represent the user’s actual life. It’s sort of like The Secret brought to social networking (a Pinterest board is nothing if not a vision board, after all).

Of course, providing the space for virtual nesting isn’t frivolous, despite what some scoffing dudes may tell you. Even if it was a frivolous waste of time, if investor valuations are any metric (and isn’t it really the only metric we have of such a thing?), it’s worth at least $1.5 billion of classic internet frivolity. Apparently, and this was a big surprise to me, Pinterest’s revenue model is about as pleasant as its design-centered aesthetic, considering the more common practices of the Internet economy. Even though Pinterest makes you give away all rights to your soul in its Terms of Use, Pinterest’s monetization strategy seems pretty tame for the moment. Like the rest of the web, Pinterest could collect and sell all of the personal information it wanted to about its users and sell them to the highest bidder. But apparently, the only thing Pinterest is doing with user content is modifying the links that users post to include Pinterest’s affiliate codes so that Pinterest gets a cut of whatever gets sold after a user clicks through to a purchase. Which is to say that Pinterst isn’t overreaching at all: it’s merely claiming its fee for delivering users to their purchase by way of its platform. Wonderful!

However, despite all that is legitimately laudable about Pinterest, I do have a few gripes based on my limited experience. Because people don’t have to actually consume/buy/use whatever products they pin, you end up seeing a lot of impractical or half-baked (literally) ideas and inexpert or unartful labelling and categorization by amateurs. For example, adding a random fruit juice to champagne DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A COCKTAIL, ladies of Pinterest. Nor is anything with caramel in it a martini of any kind, no matter what glass you put it in. And if the word “decadence” is in the name of the drink, you’re probably doing it wrong. One thing Pinterest can definitely show you is the depths of the varieties of flavored vodka: “iced cake” and “kissed caramel” vodka are actual things apparently used by people in drinks.

Of course, you can chalk up anything distasteful to the tastes of the users themselves. The fact that you see a lot of stuff you’d disagree with on an aesthetic level just shows that Pinterest is much like other social networks in terms of displaying a profile of each user. What may set Pinterest apart is that the user gets to re-examine their own pinboard, a composite of their tastes, interests, and habits. Users may even perform some analytics on themselves (and hopefully their drinking habits) in order to figure out what it is each user actually wants in their nest. Luckily for me, I already found my lady.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb permalink
    January 14, 2013 11:58 am

    aww, that is really sweet.

    However, why is adding cranberry juice to vodka a cocktail but not when champagne is added? I personally don’t like champagne cocktails but I don’t take issue with the definition.

    • SlickRickSchwartz permalink*
      January 15, 2013 8:04 am

      Deb, I disagree with your premise. A cape cod is not a cocktail; it’s a mixed drink. Straight from wikipedia, “A cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink that contains three or more ingredients—at least one of the ingredients must be a spirit.” And if you want the classic definition of a cocktail, it’s even more restrictive: “Cocktails were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.” The fact that “[i]t now means almost any mixed drink that contains alcohol,” does not absolve it of the spiritous liquor requirement in my mind, so champagne + juice is out.

      Now, I’m not saying that sangrias, mimosas, and drinks in the phylum “spritzer” are not things one may reasonably drink. However, I would reserve the term cocktail for the drinks that deserve it, lest the term be watered down.

  2. trailerdreamer permalink
    March 16, 2013 8:59 am

    This is a great article! I have been finding Pinterest fascinating. I joined late in the game after watching and wondering what was going on every time someone’s Facebook status updated and said they were “pinning” something. Once I began using it, I immediately thought: people are using this to define themselves to others in the same way they use Facebook. They are announcing: “these are the things, concepts and values that are important to me.” In some ways, they are subtlety inserting their ideas into the minds if others, quickly and without too much conversation so people do not even realize they are being persuaded of anything. It is marketing genius. When a company that produces coconut oil tells me it’s great I think, “sure, maybe, but you are trying to sell me something.” When a random Pinterest user recounts all the wonderful ways they just used coconut oil, I want to get up and try it right now! I do also find it useful for organizational purposes. Win/win. For instance, I want to homeschool my child so I have a homeschooling board where I can find all the things I want to keep and review regarding homeschooling. This is great for me but also provides information to others regarding why I want to do this and gives them a starting point if they want to as well. As I said: Fascinating! Thanks for the post!

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