As a kid, I saved Cracker Jack wrappers and vintage glass insulators from the tops of telephone poles. As an adult, my house is littered with baskets of Cape Cod sea shells, fabric from every quilt store east of the Mississippi, a Big Gulp cup full of wine corks with “cool branding,” a shelf of blank journals with covers in leather, homemade paper, literary images . . . the list goes on. Before you assume this post is an application for an episode of Hoarders (I promise no rat droppings in the shape of Jesus or wet Monopoly games), I admit to being a collector odd things, a magpie, picking up shiny tokens and bringing them back to my nest to line up on a windowsill or the edge of a book shelf. But all this gathering and keeping of physical objects may be shifting. I have discovered an ingenious online treasure chest.

I have found Pinterest.

I know that 12,000,000 people later this may sound quaint, like saying: have you seen this new fangled thing on the World Wide Web where people “friend” each other? On the innovation scale, I am typically in the rising lump of majority after the early adopters have moved on. But now that I am finally invited to the party (literally, you have to be invited), I am hooked.

Here is how it works. Someone asks you to join. Once initiated, you create a series of virtual bulletin boards with names or themes and then “pin” images to them from anywhere on the internet. Pinterest is connected to facebook so you have an immediate network of people you can “follow,” meaning you can see each other’s boards and have the option to “repin” or share.

Here is why I love it.

As a tinkerer with too many hobbies and an overinflated sense of time, it gives me a place to save all the future projects I will certainly accomplish before next month. I used to bookmark my inspirations, forget what I saved and then open and close links trying to sort out what I was thinking and why. Now on my quilt or “things I want to make” boards, I can see the images all at once, click back to the site easily and even prioritize potential projects. It is like building my own craft books.

As a compulsive surfer down weird rabbit holes (anyone research the Blue People from Kentucky a few weeks ago? I did.), Pinterest gives me a virtual pail to carry as I walk along a beach of news stories or hike through a forest of arcane research. I was thinking about Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey the other day and found some great diagrams. I saved them on a board. An interesting photo of Edward Norton? I picked it up. A picture of mysterious hanging lights that reminds me a story I want to write someday? I got it.

As a curious lurker far too interested in what everyone else is doing, I love perusing other boards. I don’t shop for clothes or cook fabulous recipes or design rooms or search in color waves or pull together perfect party ideas, but I can see what clever, artistic people create. I have access to a giant attic or scrapbook more expansive than I could ever dream up on my own.

As I wander through the world searching, linking and pinning artifacts, I wonder if this is a hula-hoop website, a fad that people will tire of and abandon like so much posted flotsam and jetsam. Or that it will be replaced by a holographic version that can actually live back on a shelf in my house. Lost in this thought, I look up from my computer and see a stack of New Yorker covers I have saved to frame and hang on the wall . . . someday.

6 responses to “Pinned”

  1. FPS says:

    I did indeed follow the Blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek for a few links.

    Am very very very very very very very reluctant to start with this pinterest thing.

  2. PB says:

    It is a slippery slope. I get it.

  3. LP says:

    PB, I am so glad you wrote about this! I have been perusing Pinterest over the past week, trying to figure out, as you say, if it is merely a fad or something that will stick around. I can’t say that I’m hugely interested in it myself, but then again I’m not a collector like you are. Mostly I’m interested from a tech / social networking / next big thing perspective. The idea behind Pinterest makes sense … but will people get bored of it eventually?

    Mostly, I’m a little jealous of it, as I’d like to have a Pinterest-style site for the vast multitude of articles I have to keep track of for my current book project. Having a long list of bookmarks, which I then create multiple subfolders for, is a tedious and inefficient way to keep track of links and articles. I love the notion of a virtual bulletin board – something where you can see what you have at a glance, and just move it around.

    I’m also wary of the whole tie-it-to-your-Facebook page aspect. It’s hard not to see absolutely everything these days as a method for Facebook and Google to gain even more of my personal information. I fight this in my own little ways, but I fear it’s a losing battle. Or already lost.

  4. PB says:

    LP, the who will get bored thing is an interesting question. My sense is that the people that use it to supplement a hobby I.e. recipes, quilt blocks, crafting etc will keep at it longer because they go back to it all the time. I cannot imagine that the shoppers and quoters will keep it up. But what do I know? I am biased.

    And the Facebook connection is tricky but I appreciated not having to set up a whole new network of people. Many of my friends like the same things I do and therefore we Repin a lot.

    What is funny to me is that I totally use it for research (WB wants a Jungian themed graduation quilt and I have been pinning inspiration pictures, diagrams and articles that may help design what is not design-able).This kind of stuff is not as “popular” but super helpful to me.

  5. Tim says:

    Whenever I see a new online/mobile social networking thing I think, “Gah! Another one?!?” Therefore, I’ve been avoiding learning about Pinterest. Thanks for the primer. You actually make it seem appealing to me, especially with your imagery of going out on a walk with a pail to collect things, but I think I’ll still avoid it.

  6. Stella says:

    I’ve been curious about this…and for the first 5 seconds thought it was completely boring…and then I just lost the last half hour in modern architecture and indoor gardening….