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So, what exactly is Pinterest? (And why is everyone paying attention to it?)

Pinterest is the next big social network apparently – but what exactly is it? Here’s our handy cut-out-and-keep guide.

Taa-daa!
Taa-daa!
Image: bryanlanders via Creative Commons

SO YOU’VE HEARD all about Pinterest, yes? The next big thing in social networks? The hottest thing on the web since Twitter?

No? Ok, don’t panic. There’s still hope.

If you want to get ahead of the crowd on the next big social network, here is TheJournal.ie’s cut-out-and-keep* guide to Pinterest

Really? Another social network? I already use Twitter AND Facebook.

That’s ok. There’s always room for one more. Remember when you thought a Bebo page was all you’d ever need?

I never thought that.

Oh. Sorry. I just assumed.

That’s ok. So what’s this Pinterest thing then?

It’s one of the hottest new social networks on the radar, according to tech bible Mashable. It’s the buzzy new social service of the moment, squeaks the Guardian. It’s gaining a lot of traction, according to the more restrained PracticalECommerce.com.

That’s all lovely but what exactly does it do?

You know those gazillions of images that you come across on the internet all the time where you think “Oh! That’s hilarious/intriguing/inspiring/disgusting! I should save that somewhere and then do something useful with it!” but forget about completely once you close the tab? Pinterest is a place to organise and share all those images.

That’s useful. Why has no-one done this before?

Well there is Tumblr, which is slightly similar. Anyway: once you’ve uploaded the image to Pinterest, the image is called a Pin, and you can then add it to specific boards.

Such as?

Well, say you’re organising your wedding, you could save pictures of nice things you come across on a Wedding Board. Or if you’re an arty type you could save photos of things that inspire you. Or maybe you have a thing for RTE political correspondents so you could collect your favourite images of them doing their thing outside Leinster House.

What?

Sorry. I got carried away for a moment.

Let’s pretend you didn’t just say that. Can I see other people’s boards once i join?

Yup. Such is the nature of social networks. You can comment on or ‘like’ other people’s Pins, follow Boards that you think you are interesting and repost Pins on your own Board if you like. It’s a bit like Twitter in that you can follow anyone or no-one because it’s an open network.

Tell me some of the buzzwords about it.

Social curation. Visually-oriented. Relevant communities. Engagement.

I don’t understand any of those. Tell me the important stuff. Is it still going to be around in 6 months time? This isn’t going to be another MySpace is it?

Well, we don’t want to make predictions but right now things are looking good. The company has got over €27 million in venture capital funds already, which bodes well. The number of people using the site also mushroomed from 1.2million in August to over 4 million by the end of December. Of course, we reserve the right to retract this paragraph if the company ever fails faster than you can say Friendster.

Ok, I’m convinced. Where do I sign-up?

Hold your horses. It’s invite-only right now -

Seriously? Websites still do that?

Yes, unfortunately. So you either need to be invited by someone you know who is already on it or else request an invitation to join.

Do you have one?

Yes.

Can I have one?

No.

*You probably don’t want to try cutting out a web page. Someone could get hurt.

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