Although I always swear I’m not going to join another social network, I have to admit, I’m pretty fascinated by Pinterest. First, there’s the gender thing — it’s about 80% female. Why, when Tumblr isn’t so skewed, and Pinterest shares the highly visual interface with easy reblogging?

Is it the name? Does pinboard = female? Or perhaps the early adopters were mostly women, and they set a culture that’s been reinforced? Is it the logo? Or is something about the interaction itself gendered?

And then there’s usage — of course everyone talks about Pinterest as the place for wedding planning, and it’s probably no wonder that the largest demographic is 25-34 year old women. But the domestic nature of Pinterest reaches far beyond weddings. Women also plan their homes, collect recipes, find craft projects, and window shop. Pinterest users also collect images and quotes as motivation for exercising, eating better, and generally living better lives.

Collecting images feels like nesting, of creating a space that provides comfort and safety. The network is part scrapbook, part aspirational, and part motivational. Pinterest users play dress up and try out different versions of themselves — who they are and who they aspire to be.

I saw some writer friends use Pinterest as a place to collect research materials for their novels, including clothing a character might wear or a place she might visit. And it struck me that Pinterest is all about world building.

Viewing multiple images at a time on a pinboard implies a narrative — all of the objects were chosen for a reason and create a bigger picture. The women there are creating and sharing stories in a way that others can participate, taking an element of someone else’s story and making it her own. And perhaps that’s why it’s so popular — it’s a way of showing who we’d like to be.

2 Responses to "Pinterest"
  1. it may be a type of world-building, but i also think it might be more in keeping with a sort of digital scrapbooking.

    my wife came to me this morning saying “this pinterest thing is really taking off!” and then pointed out that she tried it out and within ten minutes had already been reposted five times. she recognized them all as mommy bloggers she once followed but lost track of. i asked her what her take was and she said that it felt like a less intimidating version of the way teens use tumblr.


    • The main difference is that scrapbooking is all about personalization and presentation, and these pinboards can’t be customized. Since the look and feel is consistent across the site, the focus is on the collected objects. But your wife is right, it has taken off! Pinterest already has as many daily page views as Tumblr, and it’s rapidly turning into one of the biggest shopping portals out there…

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