On New Year’s Eve, I finally got my access to Pinterest — the vision board-styled social photo sharing website — and have loved what it has added to my online experience.
GeekMom wrote about their experiences with the website several weeks ago, noting that it was great for discovering new project ideas for kids and home, as well as satisfying more specific interests. I’ve found the same to be true, with boards for Geeky things, inspiration for home remodeling, interesting technology, and even dissertation research. However, I’ve been most pleasantly surprised with how many new things come from this site that are missing from my Twitter, Facebook and Google streams. The significant presence of women on Pinterest is likely a big reason for this.
Now almost two years old, Pinterest recently skyrocketed onto the short list of top social networking services. The company was named best startup of 2011 by TechCrunch and was a Top 50 website in Time‘s August list. In December, Pinterest drew 11 million visits a week, a 4,000 percent increase in traffic over six months. Some businesses have shown remarkable growth of their own through referrals from the site, benefiting from a greater engagement between community members and the merchandise they find and share with friends. Brands like Whole Foods, Martha Stewart and the Travel Channel are actively involved with posting content.
Pinterest isn’t alone in this space, of course. Sites from FFFFound to Gimmebar provide other options for visual curation. Gentlemint — for “manly things” — is a response to the dominance of early-adopting women on Pinterest. While I wish the site made it easier to manage social connections and share boards elsewhere, the click-to-pin process makes it easy to create collections, making it a great tool for designers and digital ethnographers.
It is also a mother lode for geekery. Here are some of my favorite pins first discovered through Pinterest:
1) USB Typewriter — Jack Zylkin converted an old manual typewriter into a keyboard for an iPad, an achievement he dubbed a “groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence.” There is a DIY kit for about $75, or you can purchase a completed unit for several hundred dollars on Etsy.
2) Wall Chess — Finally, a way to keep toddlers and housepets from prematurely resigning your ongoing games of chess. Mounted vertically on the wall, this chess board moves up and down and requires no table top space to play. Fortunately, Chuck Norris is not included.
3) Plastic Toy Sculpture — Several years ago, artist Robert Bradford was looking at a box of toys discarded by his kids when he was struck by the colors and their potential for sculpture. He turned the toys into a medium for an art exhibit.
5) Rubik’s Cube Art — When Erno Rubik invented his 3D color tile puzzle, I doubt he envisioned it being used as material for mosaics. This new form was inspired by the work of French artist Invader, “Rubikcubism.”
6) Paper Cutout Sculptures — Danish artist Peter Callesen creates unique art out of a single sheet of paper. My son, who is obsessed with origami at the moment, was drooling looking at Callesen’s portfolio.
7) Pac Man Rings — A series of four rings create an homage to an early arcade classic. A sterling silver Pac Man chases three black onyx companion rings on a left hand. Sadly, this work by Rachel Pfeffer is already sold.
8) Functional Board Game Art — Beckie of Infarrantly Creative came up with a way to both store and display board games. The boards are mounted on the back of a shadow box, allowing the art of the playing surface to be displayed on a wall when not in use. The framed boards can be retrieved, along with a bag of playing pieces and instructions hidden behind the surface.
9) Labyrinth Security Lock — An innovation on the standard chain lock, the Defendius Labyrinth Security Lock turns the simple straight line motion into a complex maze to freedom. Designed by Art Lebedev Studio, the titanium alloy lock will make you think twice before leaving the room ever again.
10) Waveform Wedding Bands — Simple gold and silver rings are passe. The true geek needs to digitize the voice of you and your betrothed, capturing the waveform for posterity as a symbol of commitment. The rings are designed by Brooklyn artist Sakurako Shimizu.
And, because we’re good geeks here, all lists go to eleven.