Enfilade

HECAA’s Pinterest Boards Unveiled

Posted in resources, site information by Editor on April 23, 2013

With two fabulous Clerks of the Pinterest Boards — Katrina London and Debs Wiles — taking the lead, I’m delighted to announce that HECAA and Enfilade now have a Pinterest presence! Having written about the site in the past (21 May 2012 and 17 January 2013), I’m now even more optimistic. Lots of you are already pinning. Some of you, on the other hand, are rolling your eyes at the very mention of it — not another new digital platform to make sense of! As one who signed up for a Pinterest account (yes, accounts are free) and then did nothing with it for months, I understand feelings of nagging annoyance and even disdain. But after a year of using Pinterest for personal interests and projects, I’ve been won over. It’s not nearly as good as it should (or could) be, but I think there is enormous potential for scholars to provide some leadership and make this new vehicle serve our own interests. It’s still an experiment, and six months from now, we’ll likely have a much better sense of the limits. On the front end, I offer the following suggestions; and don’t worry, we have no plans to change what happens here at the regular site for Enfilade. As always, feedback is welcome. -CH

Pinterest

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1) Plan. You’ll need to sign up for an account — but even before that — you need to consider how you want to use your account. As a social media platform, Pinterest will want to intertwine you with the people you ‘follow’ and the things you ‘pin’. It’s entirely common for people to use their real names, and if you’re using it to extend a professional presence, that’s probably advantageous. On the other hand, if you’re pinning cleaning tips, then maybe you’ll want something a bit more discreet (initials, pseudonyms, &c.).

2) Press on. When you sign up for an account, you’ll list several sites you want to ‘follow’. Over time, that list will grow as you hone your preferences and likes. For most people, Pinterest is only as satisfying as the things they’re following. Warning: here’s there’s a small learning curve. After you first sign up, you’ll likely be bombarded by lots of images (‘pins’) that have little to do how you want to use the site. Don’t fret. In a day or two, you’ll gradually begin to make sense of how it works, the visual clutter will dissipate, and it’s easy enough to ‘unfollow’ things you want to go away.

3) Follow HECAA! We currently have several ‘boards’. Whenever we post a new pin, it will automatically be pinned to your homepage, too. People who follow you will see it only if you ‘repin’ it yourself.

4) Explore. There are lots of museums, academic presses, and other scholarly institutions to ‘follow’ (Yale UP is one example). There are also lots of images of amazing eighteenth-century artifacts — often posted by historical novelists. At the level of strategy, Enlade is not aiming to assemble large collections of interesting objects — paintings by Chardin or Kauffman, for instance. We have all kinds of resources for such collections: books, databases, &c. Instead, we’re interested in exploring what kinds of information would be a good fit with Pinterest and how we would take advantage of Pinterest as a venue for distributing visual information. Ultimately, we’ll be exploring how we might marshal collective efforts to maximize a critical mass of interest in eighteenth-century studies.

5) Think about organization. You’ll be able to create your own boards, assigning each pin to one of these. Generally, the more precise a board, the more useful it will be — to yourself and to others who may follow you. If you’re unsettled by the social media component, users are allowed three ‘secret boards’.

6) Think about who might see what you’re pinning. If you’re wondering how Pinterest could possibly be useful, consider this. Say you’re working on a paper on eighteenth-century picture frames. Through web searches, you find 10-20 sites and images you’d like to keep in mind. In a matter of seconds, it’s easy to pin each of those examples to a board you call ‘Frames’. With a system much easier than bookmarking or printing hard copies, you’re able to make a visual record, with brief captions and links. But also bear in mind: if those examples turn out to be crucial to your paper, anyone following you can, now, in effect, peer over your shoulder as you’re working. Perhaps that’s fine. Or perhaps you should use one of your ‘secret boards’ for that material. It’s easy enough to turn a ‘secret board’ into a public one later on, but you can’t go the other way.

HECAA’s Pinterest boards are available here»

5 Responses

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  1. Michael Yonan said, on April 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    This is so wonderful on so many fronts. Just scanning over the HECAA pins briefly, I came across several things I’d never seen before and that I’d like to know more about. (Carriages!!)

    The potential for research is really quite amazing, too. If any readers are already using Pinterest, it might be good to hear how you do so, what role it plays in your thinking, and other factors.

    There is a TON of art posted on the web by people in far-off places and this, it seems to me, might bring some of it to greater attention. More power to it.

  2. Molly Medakovich said, on April 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    In my experience, pinterest has been useful for idea-generation in both academic research and exhibition development. We’re using it at the Denver Art Museum as we plan our “Passport to Paris” exhibitions this fall, mostly for design and programming inspiration.

    What’s particularly useful for people working with visual and material is just how immediately visual it is, with the option to navigate into deeper content, depending on what resources the image is linked to.

    I’m wondering, too, what the possibilities could be for courses/students/class “boards.”

    Generally speaking, I think it has great potential to expose the user to more multi-disciplinary aspects of the early modern period – I find myself encountering pins that deal with music, literature, decorative arts, etc.

  3. Katrina London said, on April 23, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you for your comments, Michael and Molly!

    I agree that Pinterest is a great way to explore new material that may be unfamiliar to us through boards that are devoted to specialized topics. As Craig wrote in his introduction, it’s also very useful for compiling images related to one’s own research projects. For example, if a HECAA member is working on a board featuring eighteenth-century snuffboxes, and they are willing to share these images with the HECAA Pinterest page, we could feature that board as a pin in our “18th century Pinterest Boards” board.

    I also think that Pinterest could be used to organize material related to an art history course and I would be interested to know if anyone has tried this yet.

    Please let Debs or I know if you have any questions as you start to explore HECAA’s Pinterest page or Pinterest in general. Happy pinning!

  4. Eleanor Laughlin said, on April 23, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Thank you, Craig, for your inspiration – and to the esteemed “Clerks of the Pinterest Boards” for all your hard work. You all have inspired me to create a board for our local archaeological organization. I think that we will attract more students by pinning images related to upcoming talks, as well as relevant articles, and/or general publications of archaeological interest. I’m practicing now with my own board, but hope to unveil a board for our association in the coming months!

  5. Editor said, on April 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Outstanding, Eleanor! As Molly usefully noted above, Pinterest easily accommodates a wide range of materials — assuming there’s some sort of a visual that goes along with the material. I think you’re also smart to practice with your own boards, first. That may seem obvious, but it’s probably the best way to get a sense of what works and doesn’t (and all the ways people use Pinterest badly!). It’s really useful to hear someone state it so clearly. Good luck! -Craig


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