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Dec 14, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Group A The Fab Five’s Final Project:

Pinterest


Members:

Mohammed Alibrahim

Crystal Manning

Megan McDowell

Suzanne Miles

Lisa Miller


The days of physical bulletin boards and scrapbooks are fading fast, thanks to the new
virtual community,
Pinterest. This social community allows users to organize and share tidbits
with others, discover new ideas, and find inspiration from people who share common interests.
The site has essentially become a virtual scrapbook and the digital bulletin board for

online
communities. Although it is a relatively new community, the buzz it has created continues to
grow exponentially, allowing it to compete with established communities such as Facebook and
Twitter. To better understand Pinterest and the success that i
t has generated, it is beneficial to
assess the site’s purpose (why does it exist?), function (what does it do?), and structure (how is it
organized?).


First, let’s look at Pinterest’s purpose, and what makes it different from other virtual
communities. P
interest is essentially a virtual bulletin board, developed for participants to be
able to share images across an online community, just as they would have on a traditional
corkboard by "pinning" them up for others to see. The site can be used for a number

of activities,
which correspond to personal interest and need. Those uses include: uploading images, re
-
pinning images that others have uploaded, and adding Pinterest to a browser bar to pin media
content from any site on the web. Members can follow fri
ends or people with similar interests
and tastes. For example, an individual may seek to find information on interests such as fashion,
food or travel. The photos/pins found in those categories may spark further interest to visit the
products’ original sit
es and make purchases (and possibly receive a discount!). A retailer or
owner of a product may want to have his/her products "pinned" in order to gain increased interest
and drive traffic to the product’s website. According to Pinterest the goal is "to c
onnect
everyone in the world through the things they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy,
or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every
week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world
based on shared tastes and interests." So
while at a first glance it may seem that Pinterest is just a place to share photos, interests, and
ideas, it actually seeks to connect and engage people worldwide through these common interests.


After assessing
why Pinterest exists, one can begin to understand the functions of the site.
Pinterest allows users to create visual collections or “boards,” which can be viewed and followed
by other members. Some of the most common pin board topics relate to wedding plan
ning,
interior decorating, recipes, and inspirational quotes. While Pinterest provides a creative place to
share ideas and discover new things, it also has strict etiquette rules. Something that is unique to
Pinterest is that it is invitation only. When a

person wishes to create a Pinterest account, he

or

she must either request an invitation from the site or have a friend who is already a Pinterest
member send them an invitation. Pinterest’s acceptance policy demands good citizenship and
respect of the se
rvice as well as other users. Pinterest does reserve the right to remove user
content that it believes violates the terms of agreement. Use of its services, including accessing
and viewing Pinterest content, is granted to personal, noncommercial use, to al
low personal
expression, discuss public issues, report on issues of public concern, and engage in parody.
Pinterest states that except for user content, intellectual property related to the service and
content is the property of Pinterest. By agreeing to t
he terms for personal noncommercial use,
users are granted allowance of personal expression, discussion of public issues, and engagement
in any permitted feature of the service. Pinterest’s ethical responsibilities include valuing and
respecting the rights

of third party creators and content owners, and in return, expects all users to
do the same. Therefore users agree that any content posted to the site does not violate any law or
infringe upon the rights of any third party, including Intellectual Property

Rights. Pinterest has
also established a code of etiquette for members, established by people using the site, in order to
keep the community positive and promote pins that are useful to others (in other words, reduce
spam). Pin etiquette calls for members

to be respectful and authentic, credit original sources,
report objectionable content (such as nudity, hateful content, or threats), and make suggestions to
help Pinterest grow and become better. One of those suggestions came from the growing
popularity o
f mobile devices, which allowed for the creation of the mobile Pinterest app. Not
only can users access the site from their computers, but they can now also pin anytime and
anywhere on their smart phones and tablets. Originally the app was only available t
o iPhone
users, but now the app has been adapted for Android users as well.


The third concept following an assessment of purpose and function is structure. Structure
relating to Pinterest discusses the site’s organization, governance, subsystems, intera
ction,
internal environment attributes, and the external environment. Concerning organization, Pinterest
operates under the philosophy that “everyone in the world can be ‘connected’ through ‘things’
they find interesting”. This supports the overall organiz
ation of the website, as multiple “boards”
are developed by users to display their interests and opinions. These boards are accessible to
everyone and anyone, whether they are guests or members, and can be shared among all
members who are interested in som
ething that has been “pinned” to a “board.” The range of
material that you can find on the website can be overwhelming to a first
-
time user. Upon first
arrival at the website, you are immediately immersed into the abundance of photos with
comments and “lik
es.” As you scroll down the page, you are instantly drawn to certain images;
then you read the comments below it, and next thing you know, you are clicking on the image to
read everything that is posted about it. The variety of images knows no end


they a
re infinite. It
is this way of organization (providing eye
-
catching images) that fuels the website’s popularity. In
addition to the main, or home, page, there are ways of finding specific things on the site. Located
at the top center of the main page, ther
e are subheadings of: Everything, Videos, Popular, and
Gifts. These can take you to pages that have the specific thing you are looking for. Pinterest’s
main page also offers a search tool, a language selector, an “About” page, and a link to log in to
the s
ite. The “Gifts” link allows you to select a price range, whereas the “Popular” link takes you
to a page of the most popular pins. If you click on any given image, you have the option to
connect to other social networking sites, such as Facebook, to share
what you have found with
your friends there. This method of sharing is probably the most significant way that Pinterest
attracts new members every day. It is important, however, to be aware of the terms of service and
privacy policy as nothing you post can

be guaranteed to be removed one hundred percent if you
change your mind about the site.


Regarding governance, it is unclear who the specific person, or persons, is that governs
Pinterest. The only resource that was able to be located was that questions,

disputes, and
discrepancies should be addressed via support@pinterest.com before any other action is taken.
However, a person named “Aaron” does the majority of the responses to issues and questions
proposed. According to additional research about Pintere
st and its Terms of Service, “Ben
Silbermann is the CEO and visionary cofounder” of the site and has personally contacted a
blogger about her concerns over copyright law and the site’s Terms of Service. Although
Pinterest has recently updated their Terms o
f Service (March 23, 2012), many professional artists
(photographers, painters, crafters, etc.) are reluctant to “test the waters” of the new policies and
the thin line of copyright law.


Also included within the site’s infrastructure are subsystems. Pinte
rest operates
subsystems that are specific to peoples’ interests. As previously mentioned, they offer categories
ranging from material items to videos, and gifts available in every price range. In addition to
these subsystems, the company and website allow

a user to sign
-
in or sign
-
up by the use of
another social online community, for example Facebook. This would technically make these
communities subsystems of one another under a main system of the World Wide Web (Facebook
also allows their users to share
“pins” from Pinterest on their “walls” where it is viewable to that
user’s friends, et cetera). Pinterest also allows third
-
party advertisers, but is sure to let their users
know that they “
are not owned or controlled by Pinterest.”


The Pinterest site int
eracts with its users through the above
-
mentioned categories that
allow the user to specify their interests and specific items they may be interested in.
Additionally, as also mentioned above, they provide the opportunity for users to share their
activitie
s on their website with other communities. Pinterest’s privacy policy states that, “by
using Facebook Connect, you are allowing Pinterest to access the Personal Information in your
Facebook account pursuant to the Facebook Terms of Use regarding your use
of the Service via
Facebook.” Basically, by signing up with Pinterest, and using your Facebook account to share
items from Pinterest, you are authorizing them to gather data from your use of
both

accounts.
There are other explanations throughout the Terms
of Service and Privacy Policy on Pinterest
that say similar things. The use of third
-
party links and advertisements enables users to click on
them and go to that website. It is a separate entity from Pinterest and they offer information on
them and the use

of them in their Terms of Service.


The attributes that affect the internal environment of this online community are weighed
from both a positive and negative opinion of its users. Many of the professional individuals that
promote their personal product
s on the site have found that, once again, the issue of copyright
and intellectual property policies are being overlooked or ignored by the general users of the
website. Regardless of the fact that many users never read the terms of service, et cetera, man
y
professionals have quit “pinning” their work on their “boards.” This negative attribute also
strongly supports the positive ones that have been found by individual users. Many people enjoy
the fact they can “re
-
pin” something that they really like and sh
are it with so many others. The
sharing capacity goes beyond that of Facebook and other similar social online communities in
that you are not limited to seeing only the content that you or your friends post, but rather the
entire Pinterest community.


The

external environment also has a major impact the Pinterest community. One of the
strongest impacts on this community externally is the fact that many “standard” or “typical”
users, who use the site for personal pleasure (not business), have not educated
themselves on the
terms of service or privacy policies enacted by Pinterest; as well as many other online social
communities. However, without these users, the companies that launch the sites would not be
successful. It is a pendulum situation meaning that
, the impacts sway from side to side. They are
negative one second then positive the next. It’s a cycle that is affected from all angles, both
internal and external, no matter how hard the company tries to keep things running smoothly. For
example, Pintere
st states, “we're just getting started, so there are going to be bumps here and
there.” It is apparent that the copyright and intellectual property policies have been adjusted to
better accommodate Pinterest’s business and professional users. Overall, the
concept behind
Pinterest and the intent of its development have caught the attention of the online public. It is the
third largest online social community. The display, format, and appeal of overall structure are the
main source of what has drawn so many u
sers. They will just have to keep pushing forward and
eventually they will overcome the “bumps here and there.”


To conclude, Pinterest is a social community that acts as a virtual bulletin board to
connect people from around the world through shared inter
ests and ideas. Because of its primary
use of imagery that links to original content for further exploration, Pinterest has grown to be a
successful and popular site. Similar to traditional communities, Pinterest operates under rules and
codes of etiquette

that guide member behavior. Its organization into categorized subsystems
makes it user
-
friendly when searching for topics of specific interest. Although Pinterest is new
and still working out some “kinks,” its collaborative philosophy and expressive natur
e are steps
in the right direction to keep Pinterest popular and successful in the ever
-
changing world of
virtual communities.

















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