Monday, April 14, 2014

Hands-on Play with Pinterest

I have been a Pinterest user since 2011, but my exploration of the site has been rather shallow. I primarily browse pins and participate in "repinning." For the hands-on analysis, I created a new Pinterest account connected to my e-mail address. I tried to look at the site with the perspective of a new user, focusing on what information the site provided its use and how easy it was to use. If you are unfamiliar with this site, here is a summary video from their "Help Center" that provides an overview of Pinterest.

The site offers a quick tour once you register with your e-mail. It gives you a brief description of Pinterest, similar to the video above. It walks you through searching pins, pinning your first pin, and creating your first board. If you click on "Follow Interesting Boards," you may find yourself at a feature that helps you find five boards to "follow" based on your interests. Thinking back three years ago, I found this introduction overwhelming and not intuitive. It definitely takes a while to get the hang of the website.

After the introduction, I tried to search for information about appropriate use of pins. Even as a Pinterest user, I am unsure about the legality of pinning or repinning content created by others. Copyright and the legality of Pinterest are challenges libraries face when using the site as a promotional material. I was unable to find any information on the site that clearly stated what qualified as appropriate and legal use of the site. It was nice to see, though, that the Terms and Conditions were accessible and easy to understand. To the right of the legal terms and conditions, the site has included a boxed, abridged description of the clause, making the text more accessible to site users.

Steenbock Memorial Library, my chosen library for this project, links their pins to the library catalog to show off their collection. I mimicked this process by attempting to (succesfully!) pin an external link onto a board. First, I installed the "pin it" button on my browser. This button makes it easier to pin content from the web to your boards. I went to one of my most frequently visited blogs, Hack Library School to create a pin on a board titled "Blogs." All I had to do was click the button, and this dialogue box came up:

I had officially contributed my own "visual bookmark" to my Pinterest account! It was quick and easy, a good way to mark a website I wanted to visit again. 

Overall, I think Pinterest's user interface is visually pleasing and easy to interact with. However, learning how it is and should be used is a little more challenging. I think it is important for academic libraries to have a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of using Pinterest as an institution before they create an account. This requires additional research of sources beyond, which is unfortunate and time-consuming.

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