Pinterest is the latest web craze or so it seems: ‘Pin’ visual content (images, video) you find on the web onto a virtual board, to be accessed by whoever. Add a text comment, and organize your pinned content in ‘boards’. Check it out, it is quite an experience.
Content, Recycled (Who Cares?)
In essence, Pinterest is a service based entirely on the re-use (recycling?) of third-party content. Not on content creation. Just like Twitter. And Facebook, too, in part. Tools to share with your world the things you bump into online.
With Pinterest, maybe even more than with Twitter or Facebook, comes the big question: what about copyright?
In typical Silicon Valley bold fashion, Pinterest uses a rather candid section in their terms and condition, which states that they will remove any content that is claimed to be infringing on someone’s rights:
In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, the text of which may be found on the U.S. Copyright Office website at […], Pinterest will respond expeditiously to claims of copyright infringement committed using the Pinterest website (the “Site”) that are reported to Pinterest’s Designated Copyright Agent, identified in the sample notice below.
If every copyright owner was to claim their rights, Pinterest would be left with a skeleton display of unprotected content. But since it is mostly based on visual content, and there is no convenient way to search for a particular image on the Pinterest website (visual search technologies aren’t suited for this — yet. Try Google Goggles for instance), the risk is low. The only way to find out if a given logo, photo or painting has been misused is to stumble upon it by chance. And its owner might deem the re-use to be to its benefit since it might bring her more traffic, better visibility, or else.
This is what the company and the big-name investors behind it are probably betting will (won’t) happen, as it would leave them with little content, little traffic, and consequently little marketing revenue.
Don’t Get Me Wrong, I Love Pinterest
Now, unless I missed something (comments are open), it seems to me that Pinterest has found a promising angle and might well generate stickyness and significant traffic:
- it is visual in nature, which makes it very attractive
- it is about discovery, and discovery is the new form of entertainment (Twitter, Facebook anyone?)
- it offers frictionless immediacy, supporting impulse sharing
- it is community based and is viral
- it has implemented all the right gateways (to the rest of the ‘social’ online universe) early on
- it appeals to brands, seemingly more than Twitter, thanks to its visual nature
"Many consumer brands are also experimenting with Pinterest, using pinboards to present complementary products, ideas, and imagery to inspire consumers to visualize and remix new possibilities. From fashion to interior design and home to retail to entertainment, brands are using Pinterest to thoughtfully assemble a curated lifestyle. And, they’re packaged for the social and mobile web and optimized for driving actions as part Facebook’s new frictionless sharing ecosystem.” (source: B. Solis, ”Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic”)
My Plea To Pinterest: More Content, Annotations
But why restrict it to photo and video? When browsing around, I would love to be able to pin documents, or entire web pages. Visual content is not the only content worth sharing, as understood by most other social platforms. Please, Mister Pinterest, give me more pinnable content!
And why limit the comments to text input? (this is so web 2.0) When using Pinterest on an iPad it would be great to be able to alter the contents (who cares about copyright infringement anyways? ;) with grafitti or anotations, in the same way Realeyes3D (disclosure: I was the founder and CEO) did with our w-Postcard mobile app. W-Postcard (as seen here on a Samsung phone) allowed to add handwritten comments to photos taken with the phone. Was it a good idea? 100+ million phones later, and at one point 12.5% of all US market phones had it — I dare to say yes, it probably was.
(w-Postcard image shot on a Nokia smartphone, circa 2003)
Here comes Remarkz. A drawing palette for all web content. A mystery app so far… Remarkz (in beta) allows web pages annotations with a set of graphic tools.
Please Mister Pinterest, open the Remarkz to all of us on our pinned content!
Last, where is your visual search, Pinterest? I want to be able to give an image, set a ‘similarity’ threshold, and be offered all images that are ‘similar’ to that I entered. That way, if I am a copyright owner, I can spot infringing pins faster. Just kidding. But bring a feature like (pun intended) the now-digested Riya team had, and you will increase virality a thousandfold. (Oh, and while you are at it, please extend this to video search)
(‘Visual Search’, (c) sfraptor 2010)
Why all these suggestions? Because they will support a better appropriation of content by Pinterest users. If brand marketing is the name of the game for this service, then appropriation shouldn’t be feared, it should be embraced as a way to develop more intimacy between brands and their targets, as highlighted in Lawrence Lessig's fifth book, “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy”.
Do these, Pinterest, and I predict you a great future. You would have become a killer content sharing platform. Today? Still a little too narrow for me, sorry for not showing up more often.Pin It