RESPondinG Discussion Questions It’s a brilliant epiphany: While emotions can be devilishly difficult to convey in words, they’re often very accessible via pictures. EvalUatIng What is Clive Thompson’s opinion of Pinterest? What evidence does he present to support his opinion? CrItICal lItEraCy Thompson notes in the article that one blogger suggests Pinterest is pure fluff because it is “banal, girly crap.” By making this comment, what assumptions about males and females does the blogger make? What does Thompson think of this comment? Pinterest encourages collecting photos based on a theme, and this in turn encourages categorical thinking—13 ways of looking at a blackbird. If you see one picture of a guitar, it’s just a guitar, but when you see 80 of them lined up, you start to see guitarness. This additive power is precisely what helps Rice’s clients paint their internal worlds. What’s more, Pinterest’s glanceability makes it incredibly useful as a visual memory locker. Consider the case of Josh Hirschland, a 26-year-old heading off to grad school in Chicago. He realized, as he told me, “I’m going to be broke, so I’m going to be doing more cooking.” So, like thousands of other folks, he began pinning recipe pictures and scanning others’ food-related boards. He found that a grid of images is a better way to generate ideas— and to access what he has personally filed away. I have used this memory function myself, by putting together a board for eBooks I’ve read—a virtual bookshelf for titles I don’t physically possess. And I’ve discovered that glancing at it produces the same Proustian jolt I get from gazing at the spines of my “real” books: I suddenly remember a favourite passage. Indeed, part of the value of Pinterest is that it brings you out of yourself and into the world of things. As the Huffington Post writer Bianca Bosker argued, Facebook and Twitter are inwardly focused (“Look at me!”), while Pinterest is outwardly focused (“Look at this!”). It’s the world as seen through not your eyes but your imagination. “In such a self-obsessed society, this is a place where people are focusing attention on something other than themselves,” says Courtney Brennan, an avid Pinterest user. Granted, Pinterest encourages plenty of dubious behaviour, too. It can be grindingly materialistic; all those pins of stuff to buy! Marketers are predictably drooling, and as they swarm aboard, the whole service might well end up collapsing into a heap of product shilling. But, I suspect we’ll see increasingly odd and clever ways of using Pinterest. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then those collections are worth millions. MEtaCognItIon How well would a tool like Pinterest support your learning style? tasks CrEatIng a vIsUal Essay Create a visual essay to express your opinion about the value of a website like Pinterest. Include a caption with each image to help your audience understand how it relates to your thesis (your thesis can be stated either in the title or in a brief introduction, or can remain unstated but implicit in your choice of images). DIgItal lItEraCy Compare Pinterest to Instagram and Hipstamatic (websites mentioned in the selection “The Pocket Camera Moment,” page 100). In what ways are the codes, conventions, and techniques used by the designers of these websites similar and different? Which one of the three websites most effectively appeals to its audience? Share your conclusions with a small group. about the author Clive Thompson is a Canadian freelance journalist, science and technology writer, and blogger. He writes about digital technologies and their social and cultural impacts. NEL In Defence of Pinterest 115