Monthly Archives: February 2012


Why Pinterest is the crack cocaine of Social Media.

In the beginning, the common theme amongst tech commentators and Social Media gurus was that Pinterest was something for the ladies – a bit of harmless fun that made them feel like they were using a computer.  It was somewhere the ladies could go whilst their menfolk were in Google Hangouts.  Pinterest became the Babycham of the internet era.

If the tech writers were to be believed, across the less fashionable parts of America, a new generation of Stepford Wives was mindlessly pinning and repinning pictures of ponytails whilst maintaining their fixed smiles.  Who needed tranquillisers in the Pinterest era?

And it was respectable.  Unlike vulgar social media like Twitter and Facebook you couldn’t just JOIN Pinterest.  You had to be INVITED – like a Tupperware party.

And maybe Pinterest would have stayed that way if Big Business and powerful media organisations hadn’t started sniffing around, trying to see what was keeping all these women so happy, trying to see if they could make a buck or two out of this pinning/repinning compulsion.

Pinterest crossed the boundary from bridal shower to boardroom.  Things would never be the same again.

Soon Pinterest was no longer the preserve of nice, middle America homemakers who liked making their own Christmas cards.  It became the social media of choice for any up-and-coming marketing newbie or social media editor who wanted to show off.  Men were no longer embarrassed to be seen to pin in public.  Suddenly, everyone was doing it.  It went global.  People measured their success in repins and follows.  Greed was good.

We should have seen it coming.  But we didn’t.  We never do until it’s too late.

Slowly, inevitably, Pinterest revealed its darker side.  It wasn’t a sweet, innocent pick-me-up after all.  It was cruelly addictive.  It was the crack cocaine of social media and once you started pinning, you’d keep coming back for more.  And more.  And more.

Growing numbers of women – and men – turned into hopeless addicts in desperate search of a repin.  But the repins were getting rarer and the hit wasn’t as high.  Nobody was interested in their boards any more.  Their pinning became more and more desperate, erratic, thematically vague.  Eventually, they reached the bottom rung, forced to do things they’d never thought they’d do;  they started pinning images of moderately engaging kittens.


I speak as one who knows what it’s like.  I’ve tried to wean myself off with strong doses of Storify but it’s no good.  Pinterest’s got its hooks into me and no mistake.

We may not be sharing needles, but we’re sure as hell sharing pins.

To feed my habit, I’ve started pushing.  I’m targeting social media novices.  They’re weak, vulnerable to the promise of unlimited images of clever storage ideas for small rooms.  I’m not proud of myself.  Pinterest made me do it.

So why am I writing all this?  Because I’m hoping that this blog post might help some of you avoid the Pinterest habit.  Don’t be deceived by its feminine guile.

It’s too late for me.


The Art of Writing for Radio

Hilariously, the blog  posts I’ve written about computer science (a subject I know virtually nothing about) get WAY more views and shares than anything I ever write about journalism (a subject which has been my income source for twenty years)!  Maybe ignorance is more appealing in a blog than professional insight!!

But I’m not playing the ratings game :-)  So I’m going back to journalism or rather the teaching of journalism for a moment.

I started a new semester of teaching radio journalism to a new group of first years at Salford Uni last week.  It was great to meet them and I enjoyed the first sessions on the Art of Writing for Radio.

I wanted to find a fun way of reinforcing the main points of the lecture so I decided to build on an idea I’d seen done by Helen Keegan, a lecturer in Interactive Media at Salford.  She’d got the MSc Audio Production/Professional Sound and Video Technology students to put together some tips on using Social Media.  She took photos and put them together into a cute video.  I loved the simplicity of the idea so asked if she’d mind if I, erm, stole it for my students.

So this is the end result.  My photos (using my iPad) aren’t as good as Helen’s so the messages don’t come out very clearly in some of the photos.  But the second group of students happened to have bingo dabbers with them (don’t even ask) so they really helped!

Spreading some coding love on Pinterest.

This blog seems to be less and less about journalism and more and more about computer science!!  That’s not something I would have predicted when I started out twenty-odd posts ago.  But I love that kind of deviation from the planned route.  The whole beauty of blogging and social media and linking is that you are taken in directions you never thought possible and can find yourself delighted and reinvigorated by the most unexpected things.

I’ve been messing around with Pinterest for a couple of weeks (there’s a lot of buzz about it) but couldn’t really find a use for it.  It’s, well, a bit twee at the moment.  It’s really taken off with female crafters in the States, people planning their weddings, pictures of cute animals doing amazing things – you can imagine.  So not really my thing.  But everyone was talking about its huge potential.

If you’ve not come across Pinterest yet (it’s invitation only at the moment!!) it’s a digital pinboard site with lots of sharing (repining.)

Then yesterday I came up with the idea of creating a Pinboard about all the great resources and blogs and people I’ve come across as I learn about coding.  So instead of writing a blog with hyperlinks to all these sites which people skip over and ignore, I’ve got a pinboard with lots of intriguing images which draw people in and encourage people to click and visit.  That’s the idea, anyway.

My coding Pinboard - 100% not twee

Within minutes, these images were being repined and commented on in the Pinterest world.  That’s a lot of sharing bang for your buck!  And maybe as a result one more person will start to learn a little bit about coding….

What I like about it is that it provides a good format for telling a non-linear story.  So my collection of resources for coding learners doesn’t really lend itself to a traditional narrative structure – although you could find a way of doing that, of course.  But a Pinboard enables me to bring all my material together and the “linking narrative” is the passion about the subject which I want to share with a wider audience.

I got in touch with Manchester Girl Geeks about it too (I’d pinned them!) so they’re playing around with Pinterest in the same sort of way.  Between us, we’ll turn twee into geek!