Interesting article by Amanda Marcotte on Pinterest, the social networking site that allows users to pin or collect images and ideas. At the moment, the site is dominated by women pinning or curating ideas on home design, art, wedding planning, babies and nurseries, food, gardening, and probably a myriad of other things that fall under the loose term crafting. In some ways, Pinterest is not unlike Alice Walker’s mother’s garden, a visual display of female culture. Or as Marcotte titles her article, “A Social Network of One’s Own.” Pinterest’s users are predominantly women of all stripes, and one of the advantages of the site is the way that Pinterest–for the moment–keeps out the kind of troglodyte behavior aimed at women from so many other parts of the Internet.
Tech guru Deanna Zandt pointed out to me that Pinterest first attracted housewives and crafters, and while it’s becoming more diverse and feminist all the time, its image as a “women’s site” stuck. She credits the label as a factor in keeping the space safe, saying, “There’s also a glaring lack of misogynist content, which signals to other women exploring the space that it’s cool for them to be there.”
Some of the male tech bloggers who Marcotte highlights were bewildered by Pinetrest, and didn’t quite know why women would a) want a space different than tumblr or b) want a different social networking experience at all. Of course these male bloggers aren’t the objects of derision, bullying, and harassment. Women bloggers and writers are much more likely to experience these behaviors on the internet. Apparently Pinetrest, partly because of its form and partly because of its user base, so far has few of these negative behaviors. I wouldn’t go so far as to make the claim that Pinetrest is a feminist space–activism is part of what it offers, alongside good design ideas.
I admittedly don’t have a Pinetrest account, and it’s a conscious choice, and unlike Marcotte, it’s not because the site is too girly. It’s because I definitely don’t need any other space to distract me from the other things I need to be doing. If I had a Pinetrest account, I might never stop painting stuff in my house. (As it is, I’ve got three different projects involving my walls/doors and paint lined up for the Spring.) Yet, I like the concept much more than I do tumblr. The fact that Design*sponge has a Pinetrest account I think is telling about the kinds of networking and idea sharing Pinetrest offers. In effect, it’s short hand taste curation. The infinite sharing and resharing of ideas through cyberspace makes curating taste difficult at best, yet one of the facets of new media that often goes unremarked is how it shapes our tastes. The piecemeal way we consume music, text, and the visual arts stems from this cacophony of hyperlinks that makes up the internet. While this seems like so much noise–and there are critics who think we are incapable of processes this information–I don’t think it is. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites help us organize the noise into consumable bites.