Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pinning Away...But Who Really Cares?

You know a phenomenon is gaining traction when the critics come out. Yep, some folks out there don't like Pinterest. I kid you not.

What's at issue you ask?

1. Self-promotion.

My spuds' homemade crayon valentines
inspired by a Pinterest pin
Just this morning at Mile High Mamas, Joann faulted Pinterest, "You're not supposed to pin your own things." She explained how the pictures she and her husband have taken truly ARE her inspiration. Great! 

Though I still don't see the problem. 

As the site states, "Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you're proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion."

Who wouldn't want to get behind that philosophy? Don't we have enough social media opportunities with our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and RSS feeds to self-promote our ideas and wares? Sometimes I feel like my on-line existence is a virtual billboard advertising myself. What relief to inspire AND be inspired by others' art and creativity simultaneously. 

In other words, pin your stuff AND pin others stuff. Karma baby, karma.

2. Liability.

Undeniably, we live in a litigious state. And the boundaries of ownership on the net have yet to be totally defined and sanctioned. Pinterest critics worry that copyright infringements are only multiplied by the rampant pinning of uncredited content. In effect, they say, pinners are stealing images.

Kal Barteski’s Campaign to
Educate and Protect
Online Content and Creators
As a former academic trained to pay homage to original sources, I'm not blind to the unchecked pinning and repinning of non-credited pics on Pinterest. I can empathize with Liz, who wrote over @ ScoutieGirl, of her growing uneasy using Pinterest. 

While Liz took great pains to credit sources, including using description fields to cite creators and double-checking original links, she worried these steps were not enough. The nagging feeling remained, for her, because once she pinned something, that pin's future was out of her hands. 

To be sure, Pinterest states that a pin can be removed at any time if it infringes on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Further, repeat Pinterest offenders may be prohibited from pinning any new content. But all it takes is a cursory look at a sample of boards and one finds that, indeed, many pins are not properly linked to the original source. So what DOES this mean to creators? to pinners? to copyright on the web?

In the end, critics are upset that they can't pin their own images or can't (safely) pin others' images. They simply can't be bothered with another social media site when they are already overwhelmed with the tweets, pokes, and tumbles found elsewhere on the web. They don't get the point. Why pin in the first place?

Yet, I see value. The lure of the filled pinboard remains stronger than the risk of liability (or the risk of self-negation). I see potential. Potential for supporting artistic commerce, for example.

But since I'm not pinning my own collections just yet (I want to complete The Makerie photography class first!), the critics have raised an important issue--do local artisans want to be pinned at all?

What's your reaction to being pinned on Local Pindies?


  1. Interesting - the copyright issue is one that is near and dear to my heart. I am a big fan of the "fair use" argument, that images and words of others can be used in other creative ways, in satire, etc. For me, as a slow-growing neo-marxist, I think the concept of ownership itself might be problematic - I like the Bakhtinian circle's playfulness in attributing articles to other members, etc.

    As far as self-promotion goes, with the popularity of "branding oneself," etc. I am not sure how one might avoid self-promotion - seems a matter of degree to me.

    In other words, critics will be critic (speaking as a critic). There are always flaws, and problems. Eh, so what? I'm still a fan.

  2. You are right Jen, one cannot avoid self-promotion! I don't think we should either. Instead, have some fun --plug your own inspiring work AND others. Seems simple to me. Win win. And I'd love it if someone pinned my art/collections/decor. Unfortunately there are some unethical beings who have co-opted others' work as their own and worse, profited as a result--but this problem spans far and wide, and is not limited to Pinterest.