Your art, my brand. Thoughts on Pinterest.
I’m not sure when this shift occurred. You know, the one where our penchant for sharing the details of our lives met self expression through the found items of an unknown creator? While my cynicism surrounding the use of other people’s creations to build my personal brand remains, I can’t help but join in. I suppose this is the inevitable catch-up of the internet to something we’ve been doing for eons with the cars we drive, clothes we wear, music we listen to etc.
Social sharing has changed. Wave goodbye to Facebook, and prepare to embrace (if you’ve not already) the artsy world of the Tumblrs and Instagrams of the world—with Pinterest valiantly leading the charge (likely on a cream-painted fixie bike). Like any other form of entertainment, we’ve tired of generic status updates, likes and the same drunk face you make every other Saturday. The way I see it, Facebook is just too real and it’s time to inject some creativity in this social thing. I can’t help but wonder if Zuckerberg realized this when he introduced the giant cover image in the new Timeline.
So will a customizable canvas atop the Timeline suddenly shift Facebook into a creative space? No. I believe Facebook will always have its use—the address book of the internet, if you will—but it’s been usurped as a forum for self expression. Why? The new mode of identity performance online isn’t properly supported by its interface. And in this fancy new land of collecting hand rendered posters, screen-printed quotes, filtered photography and lovingly arranged found antiques, we get something very different.
This collection of things allows us to communicate more complex ideas about who we are and what we believe in; by looking at the whole we begin to understand the zeitgeist in which we all live. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are thousands of pictures placed intelligently together to communicate something as complex as an emotion or a sensibility worth?
So while the Pinterest Board may superficially help to define you in the eyes of your followers, it also represents a lot about the changing state of our social world (and the creative shift in the world at large). Pinterest celebrates designers and artists, lovingly positioning them as the catalysts of our culture. It seems the social public, thirsty for inspiration and self expression, has helped to make the designer and the artist the new celebrity. They will use our work to express themselves quickly and simply, publicizing their ideas, opinions and emotions thanks to a sharing culture that believes in the creative commons.
So whether it was designed with all of this in mind or not, Pinterest showed up on the scene at the right place during the right paradigm shift and with a UI that makes it all beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. Pinterest has recently hit its 10mm user mark and is now sending more referral traffic to sites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Welcome to the 2012 boom of the new state of social.