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What is Pinterest?

It seems no how many social media sites you join there is always another; Pinterest is the hot new kid on the block.

Pinterest is growing fast.

You may have seen Pinterest mentioned on your Twitter feed, in your staffroom or seen it on Facebook updates. For a startup that went live in 2010, Pinterest has grown its traffic to outnumber Google+ and Tumblr in December 2011.

So what is it?

According to its About page, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.”

First MySpace, then Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Google+, it seems that as soon as you joined the latest online club and get the hang of it there is always another one that you have to master. Nevermind the changes on Facebook and Twitter which have you searching for familiar features. Will it even last? So many startups appear to be revolutionary only to fade away with a whimper. Pinterest seems to be gaining steam, with the uses evolving along with the users who adopt it.
Some popular uses are to gather design inspirations for home decorating, replacing the inspiration boards that designers create for clients. Weddings, parties, or almost anything design-related can be shared among friends of other Pinterest users far and wide. Beyond design uses, some news organizations are using Pinterest to create background or related content. Media news site 1000 Words created a how-to piece on using Pinterest as a media tool.

What can be so exciting about new tools is seeing how the users seem to take the lead. I can imagine community leaders creating a Pinterest board with photos of the people and places in their neighborhoods, school clubs creating a board with highlights from their performances or activities, classrooms sharing images from history, science or poetry inspiration photos.

I have used Microsoft Office’s OneNote for multimedia collaboration, but it is not a social sharing service. Lots of people, especially teens and twenty-somethings, use Tumblr as a visual blog, but this is more like a bulletin board than a blog. At this point, it is invite only. You can request an invitation from its front page or from one of its users (ask your more social media connected friends). It might be one more fad social media site that you can safely ignore, but then again, it might be the one social media community you didn’t even know you were looking for.

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