Inspiration boards are nothing new. Creating collages made of photos, scraps of fabric, favorite quotes and other odds and ends is a good way to define your style, make plans for redecorating your bedroom or prepare for your upcoming wedding. Creating virtual or online inspiration boards, however, is a recent craze. Just launched in 2011, the social media tool Pinterest allows users to collect images from all over the web and “pin” those images to create and share online inspiration boards. The result is a time-sucking wonderland of good ideas and eye candy.
Like many Pinterest users, I’ve created boards to display my favorite recipes from foodie blogs I follow, collect inspiration for the day I finally get around to chopping off my hair and keep track of books I’m reading (I’d have my librarian card revoked if I didn’t). People who “follow” my pins can see when I’ve added something new, “re-pin” images they like to their own boards and vice versa. If you would like to get pinning, simply request an invitation from Pinterest.com, or ask one of your friends who is already a member to send you an invitation.
A word of caution about copyright (again, I don’t want my librarian card revoked). Many corporations, online Etsy shops and publications have added “pin it” buttons to their sites, encouraging users to pin their images. Use more caution when pinning from other sources, because pinning an image that someone else owns–without their permission–could potentially get you into legal trouble. The water is murky on this topic, as a recent piece on Public Radio International’s Marketplace illustrates. (One lawyer compares Pinterest to the ill-fated music sharing site Napster, while a law professor argues that low-resolution images linking back to the sites where they originate falls under legal “fair use.”) At the very least, be sure your pin links back to the original picture source and credit that source in the caption you create for your pin. You can even do a little investigation to see if the image owner allows non-commercial “fair use” of his or her image in social media, including Pinterest. Other good tips can be found in artist Lori McNee’s article “How to use Pinterest and still respect copyrights.”
So, are you using Pinterest? If so, what sort of boards — particularly book-related ones — are you creating? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.