Saturday, 13 February 2016

Trying to understand the appeal of Pinterest

Out of almost every module so far I have seen change.  Change is scary.  Change brings differences that many people do not like, understand, or even want to understand.  Did a person who typed on a typewriter have the right to call themselves a writer, over those who used more traditional methods?  Are ebooks replacing books?  Are you really an author if you can just self-publish whatever you want, or put a unique spin on publishing through social media? 

When reading “An Open Letter to Everyone Using the Word ‘Curate’ Incorrectly on the Internet” I could see where they were coming from.  The author had a point.  Just because Pinterest allows you do collect information online that’s relevant to a specific subject, doesn’t mean a person is a curator.  Especially when those people who are curators by profession have worked so hard.  After spending years in school, and even more time gaining job experience do become a curator, does someone who jumps on the online curating train have the right to that title as well?  But what are they then?  A social media curator?  Are people holding on to titles and names in a changing world?  People who dedicate time and effort to their Pinterest account definitely do not do the same things as a Curator at a museum, but do changes in technology then require people to loosen the reigns on definitions of words?  Navigating the internet isn’t easy, after all.  With the amount of information in the world expanding as rapidly as it does, someone has to organize it, even if someone can do it sitting at home in front of their computer during their spare time.

I don’t know the answer.  If someone enjoys taking pictures, and they have a high quality camera, I’d probably call them a photographer, even if it’s not their profession or if they haven’t trained for it.  If someone writers stories and puts them online for anyone to read, I’d still call them a writer and an author.  I wouldn’t put them on the same level as people who are published and paid for their work, but I wouldn’t cut them off either.  So while I would not call someone who ‘curates’ online content a professional curator, maybe this is just one more word that needs to expand its definition, understanding that there are different ‘levels’ or ‘classifications.’

“I am all for changes in the English language as long as they are for the positive. What I am not in favor of is the hijacking of words to make something sound more important that it actually is.” (Morin, 2012)

What do we do, then?  Create a new word?  Create sub-definitions?  In the end is the type of work each person does, the amount of time, education, and importance behind the work more important than the label used to define it?  When I look up online content curation, I see a focus on marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (Mullan, 2011).   When I think of curation for museums or gallery’s, appealing to the masses is part of it, but so is the preservation of history and the sharing of culture.

This entire assignment is content curation, gathering content that is already out there.  But none of it is original content.  Right Mix Marketing suggests that content curation should be used along with original content to better promote your collection and increase search optimization (Treanor, 2011).
In my view, it all comes back to change, and how fast change comes when we may not be ready or willing to accept it.  The internet has created a whole other aspect of life that people have never had to really consider before.  It some ways it’s nice to know that humans are still needed to help the internet improve.  Our ability to organize and sort is still needed along with advancements and technology (Rosenbaum, 2012).

I’ve never really become interested in Pinterest.  I’ve tried, I’ve had an account for years.  I’ve taken multiple cracks at it, but it is not for me.  If I want to find recipes to try, I google it.  If I want DIY projects, I google it.  But the only reason that works is because of content curators.  So special thank you to the people out there who actually have taken an interest in platforms like Pinterest. 

I focused my board on one of my favorite debates, books vs. ebooks, and if one is better than the other, or if one is making the other irrelevant.  I don't think either side will ever render the other obsolete, but I still enjoy the debates around the issue. 

1.    Hermitage Museum, (May 2012). “An Open Letter to Everyone Using the Word ‘Curate’ Incorrectly on the Internet,” Aboriginal Curator in Residence,
2.       Mullan, E. (2011) What is content Curation?. Available at: 
3.       Rosenbaum, S. (April 2012). “Content Curators are the New Superheros of the Web, “ Fast Company,
4.    Treanor, T. (2011) Content Curation: Definition and 6 tool options. Available at: 


  1. Cara I really loved your pintrest board. It is a really great way to get into the debate and it was very visually appealing.

    I feel the same way you do about the curation debate and your blog post made me think of when I was working on a Web 2.0 pilot for what we called "Citizen Journalism" then. Because "real" journalists at my organization wanted there to be a differentiation from what we do, that we've trained to do, and what "regular" people were doing by contributing to our website. So we gave it a second-tier name.

    Like curation, I wonder where the line is for journalism. At the time, the Taser death of Robert Dziekanski was a big deal, and the story from the police changed when the video surfaced, taken by "regular" person Paul Pritchard. Was he a citizen journalist? Or a journalist? Or a person with a video camera? I wonder does it take a reputation or mainstream organization to give a regular person credibility as a journalist? It's not a profession like doctors or lawyers, so where is the line? Like curation, is it to add context? Or do something for others to more easily understand information? If getting dressed in the morning is curation, is gossip journalism?

  2. Ah Cara, this is a personal argument for me! Not the print book vs e-book as I don't think they are a dichotomy but rather two different kinds of things that require different mind-sets. I like both, at different times and for different purposes. But, my anguish with the word curate and it's (my opinion), misuse. That element of care, as Raquel and I have noted at length, must be apparent but whether the care taken by a five year old is any less important than that of an educated adult...that is where I'd talk about something akin to information literacy. Yes, there is lots of information on the internet (as your hilarious fire-hydrant photo jokes) but, is all that information pertinent to me? Viable to my search? Reputable to me and my research? Hrm. I wouldn't necessarily use the pinboard by the five year old (unless my research concerns that age group etc) I think the clarifying idea is of literacy. Those citizen journalists, that Jennifer mentions, were/are they literate in journalism? Do they strive for objectivity etc? Probably not, it is more of a personal reaction and in-the-moment capturing rather than a deciphering, analysing and (attempting to be) objective re-telling. It is not a profession for the former.

    Thanks so much for adding your pinboard and your comments. It is great to see the many sides to this discussion. :)