A Love-Hate View of Pinterest

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If you track the key sites linking in to your blog, you notice trends. In April 2011, page views and unique visitors to Daisy Yellow via pinterest skyrocketed. Meaning, they went from insignificant to significant. The percentages correlate - both about 4% (of total pageviews or unique visitors) in April to 26% in September. And for math geeks like me, that's while the denominator was increasing. I don't pin my own stuff (yes, some do, to generate links, sales etc.) So this is people pinning stuff like Art Journaling 101 or Kick-Start Your Art Journal etc. and others clicking the links from pinterest.

Sister Diane, the go to girl for crafty goodness posted Pinterest, Inspiration, Copying and the Whole Ethics Thing. There is a discussion over at The Magpie Knitter about Pinterest and the C Word.

Rantish, longish post ahead.

The way I use pinterest is the way I thought it was meant to be used - to develop categorized inspiration boards. I have a mandala board. I'm not going to copy any of the mandala designs, but I enjoy looking at them all together on the screen. I have a rainbow board. I love rainbows and things colored or arranged in rainbow patterns. And 50 photos of all sorts of rainbow things rocks.

To use a flickr analogy, a pinterest board is a build-your-own-flickr-group. It's a flickr gallery without the 18 photo limitation. A build-your-own pinterest board of pink stuff inspires me.

  • We choose to add our stuff to a flickr group, and photos are obviously attributed.
  • We don't choose to add our stuff to someone's pinterest board or tumblr, and stuff is not always attributed.

One of the discussions in this arena revolves around a perceived problem with people tagging handmade art/craft "diy" or do-it-yourself. On Flickr searching "diy craft" yielded 72,668 PAGES of results. So this really isn't the issue. The issue has to do with people thinking that if they find something on the web (flickr, etsy, blogged, even on Martha Stewart) it is simply A-OK to copy it. I'm pretty sure you can make one as a gift for your little niece in Omaha if that's all there is to it. But copy to blog about it, copy to sell, modify and print on fabric? Stick it on your blog without attribution or permission? Hmm. The problem is not the tag "diy." The tag itself is a symptom.

My key concern about pinterest (and tumblr) is that photographs and creative work are not consistently and accurately attributed to the source. Not to a blog that collates a bunch of pretty things from around the web. People write books, sell them in book stores, and people copy paragraphs or entire chapters or tutorials and put them in other books or blogs. That's clearly copyright infringement. Why is it perceived differently if the content is digital? Because it's easier to copy?

Ad infinitim, ad nauseum, I hear that it is OUR fault for putting stuff on the web, we don't have the right to control it, and we are scoffed at for trying to maintain the rights to our stuff. You're offering free, I'm taking.

For the past few months, I have done my best to track to the original source on the web. Sometimes it is 3-4 layers in, via 4 blog posts intersected by flickr! Finding my own stuff attributed/linked to another site, a site that absconded with my photographs, pisses me off. Pinterest didn't invent unfair practices like stealing other people's work. But it definitely makes it super easy to "pin" and run, without doing a little leg work.

Read about the concept of "free" at The Evolution of the Crafty Revolution.


Editor's Note (from me): I think I should say that this was  not meant to indicate that I've personally been wronged by folks pinning to pinterest. It's cool of you to pin my work to pinterest. It is a compliment! I called this post Love-Hate because I do love pinterest, I love looking at the boards I've put together, finding new ways to "categorize" inspirational stuff by looking at other people's array of boards. Finding new artists. Finding new blogs. My point is that there is potential for wrongdoing. We are all part of the on-line creative community and stuff that impacts the community is certainly up for debate.