Craig Hanson, who writes the Enfilade blog, recently posted on the Pinterest phenomenon, the online image pinboard service that is growing fast at the moment. Craig notes how images from museum websites are increasingly being ‘pinned’ and how this is helping to increase the public awareness of museum and heritage collections.
I had noticed something similar with images from this blog appearing on Pinterest. I find it fascinating to see which images (and, theferore, objects and places) are particularly popular – some get pinned and repinned numerous times.
There seems to be real mutual benefit in this: it helps museums and heritage institutions to understand what their audiences are interested in, and it helps individuals to find inspiring images and learn more about those objects and places.
Some museums have responded by creating their own Pinterest boards, for instance the Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the British Museum. The National Trust also has an official Pinterest presence, put together by our web team and including some ‘prosumer’ content. It illustrates our multi-focused identity as a membership organisation, a nature conservation body as well as a museum authority.
My colleague Alex Hunt, who monitors external trends that might affect the National Trust, sent me a link to this post by We Are Social which analyses the profile of the American users of Pinterest: the majority of them is female and has design/art-related occupations and interests.
According to We Are Social’s research, UK Pinterest users tend to have a slightly different profile (and there are far fewer of them), but both groups seem to have a high proportion of what marketing people call ‘influencers’, those whose activities and tastes are followed and imitated by others. A while ago I did some posts about influence and influencers, open-source art history and liquid networks.
Fellow blogger Courtney Barnes, a classic cultural influencer, has recently started a visual diary on tumblr (which is similar in some ways to Pinterest), to record the discoveries that cannot immediately be accomodated on her main blog Style Court. It is a miniature (but growing) encyclopaedia of one person’s taste, an evolving mood board and a treasure trove of visual juxtapositions.
It is impossible to predict how the use of Pinterest will develop (I should perhaps revisit this in a year’s time), but at the moment it provides a wonderfully magnified view of the inner workings of cultural exchange, inspiration and networking.