piiinteresting, very piiiinteresting…

My forays into various online image repositories continue… I now not only have an account with Pinterest, which in case you don’t know describes itself as “a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard”, I also have the app on my phone.


I opened an account because I am planning to redecorate a bedroom and I wanted to use a Pinterest board as a way of gathering ideas for the project.  One of the first things that struck me was that I was definitely not alone in using Pinterest as a way of collecting images of really nice home stuff.  There are loads of pictures of rooms, painting schemes, DIY projects, individual domestic objects…

… as well as cupcakes, fashion accessories and whole outfits, nails (I will never want for ideas of how to paint patterns on my nails in at least three colours again), pages of profound (or not) philosophical-like life advice, celebration cakes, cute guys, hair styles, kittens, architecture, recipes and gorgeous women.

That’s what comes up on Pinterest’s homepage when you land there to log in – in one way, a real mish mash of stuff.  On the other hand, it struck me as overwhelmingly focussed on things that conventionally are the subjects (or objects) of women’s work, women’s pleasure, women’s fantasies.  Fashion, cooking, domestic spaces, philosophy (just thought I’d slip that in), consumption, attractive men and women and, err, kittens (ok, not sure how that last one works, personally).  It definitely felt to me very feminine, of a particular kind.

There are also ways to select what you see on Pinterest, though.  When you open an account, you have to choose four images from about four screens worth, which identifies four ‘pinteresters’ that your account then follows – so that once you’re logged in, the images you see are selected by what who you choose to follow pins and shares (I think that’s how it works, anyway).  So by changing who you follow, you could avoid seeing too many cupcakes, kittens and nail art, or, indeed, see nothing else.

It would be an interesting project to figure out in more detail, more robustly, the content held on Pinterest, and whether certain sorts of content tend to cluster together in particular assemblages of visual ‘interest’.  James Ash has written recently about ‘attention’ and how certain images (in his case study, computer games) work to create a ‘retention economy’; though much less intense, I wonder if Pinterest might be a way of enabling ‘everyone’ (as in ‘here comes everyone’) to create their own regime of visual attention: something to get absorbed in visually.  The question is, I suppose, to what effects…

One thought on “piiinteresting, very piiiinteresting…

  1. It must have changed because I didn’t have to choose from any images when I registered a while ago. I find Pinterest useful because I can keep a visual track of photographers and writers I’m interested in. Previously they were all in notes, on web archives I’d stored or tucked away in folders on my Mac desktop somewhere. I’ve been surprised how many people have re-pinned and are following me.

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