Pinterest – The Basics

There has been recent interest in a new web tool called Pinterest.  In this post I’m going to look at what Pinterest is, how it is being used in education and issues surrounding use of the site.  I have tried to link to examples where possible and additional blog posts or articles.

I have seen Pinterest tagged as both a social network and a social bookmark site, and can see how it is both; it could also be used as a type of image store too.   Essentially it is an online pin board where you pin images or videos (social bookmark) to an online pin board which can then be viewed, commented and re-pinned (shared) by others.  To create a board you are asked when you sign up to add the bookmarklet to your browser bar, search for images (on the web or on Pinterest) and then click the bookmarklet to add the image (pin it) to your board.  You can add additional information to your pin as well as tweet, embed or email it.

Pinterest has become very popular in some subject areas such as crafts and weddings as it is an almost entirely visual resource and is quickly becoming a way to search for images rather than through other sites such as Google Images or Flickr.  Using the sites search facility allows searches for pins, boards or people and there is a certain serendipitous feel to searching the site to find resources.

At the moment Pinterest is still in Beta testing so to use it you need to get an invite so if you want to try it out get in touch and I’ll send you an invite.  I’ve been playing around with Pinterest and created a board on Technology for Education.

Technology for Education

RSC Wales Technology for Education Pinterest board

Phil Bradley has written article for UK eInformation Group which gives a good overview of Pinterest and some examples including his own boards on libraries.

This board called Studying in Swansea Bay links to places to study in the Swansea Bay area.

There are examples of Pinboards being used as subject guides such as this one which is a board on Kindle Ebooks on Photography.

Waterloo Public Library has an ebooks board which links to free resources as well as their own collection they also have library boards on children’s literature, teen fiction and much more.

University of Glasgow Library has used boards to highlight selections of their own collections.

Bolton College LRC has created several subject specific boards including Catering and Hospitality, Marketing and Sport.

This article, 21 resources for library marketing with social media, has four articles on ways to use Pinterest in your library for marketing resources and this article explains how to track traffic from Pinterest using Google analytics

At the moment there is an iPhone app and they are developing an app for the iPad, however no apps are available for Android or other devices.

The first issue I noticed is that to sign up you need to login with a Facebook or Twitter account.  You are later given the option to log in with a username/password but you need a Facebook or Twitter account to initially start.

I also mentioned at the start of this post that it could be used as an image store however as you are bookmarking an image from the web it is possible that the owner of that image can delete it from there site.  If it is important to have that image on the site it may be worth getting in touch with the site owner and asking for a copy that you can store and use.

Not being thoroughly technically minded I’m sure someone will be able to explain this better but what images you can pin depends how that website treats an image.  For example, I noticed whilst trying to pin images from the JISC Content site that the majority of images were unpinnable.  That could be that the images aren’t treated as images by the website, so if you want your images to be pinned you would need to ensure they are tagged and treated as such in the website code.  It also means that it may not be possible to pin images from other website, which could be a problem if you are doing subject specific boards and good resources cannot be pinned.

If there are multiple images on a site you have to pin each one individually, there is no way to bulk pin images to your board.  That isn’t a major problem on most sites however if you are on a page that is image heavy, or pinning a blog post that has a lot of advertising on the page, it can be a pain to sort through the images of what needs to be pinned and what to leave out.

The final, and what could be the biggest issue, is the discussions around copyright.  Several articles and blog posts have discussed the copyright agreement on the website puts the liability on the end user for any legal actions and that they are also responsible for any legal fees that Pinterest incurs even if the action is taken against you.  Phil Bradley has written a post “Are you breaking copyright law using pinterest” which helps to explain the issue better, and this article explains how to protect yourself on Pinterest.  However if you are still unsure I would recommend getting in touch with JISC Legal for advice, guidance and reassurance.

The Pinterest pin etiquette page is good place to start to understand the ethos of the site and certainly gives the impression that they are open to communication from users.  They also state in that “We do not allow nudity or hateful content” and that the site is monitored by the company as well as end users.  As with all social bookmarking / networking sites however regular monitoring is required.

Overall I can see a lot of potential benefits to using Pinterest for learning and teaching.  I’ve certainly viewed some good examples out there.  If you would like to create a board and would like some advice please get in touch with us here.  If you have created a board please post a link in the comments below.

One thought on “Pinterest – The Basics

  1. No sooner had I posted this I received this email regarding updated terms of service…

    “Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We’d encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.
    • Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
    • We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
    • We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
    • Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.
    We think these changes are important and we encourage you to review the new documents here. These terms will go into effect for all users on April 6, 2012.
    Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We’re working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We’ve gotten a lot of help from our community as we’ve crafted these Terms.”

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