Pinterest for GLAMs: Europeana’s Experiment

written by Thijs on March 22, 2012 in Behind the scenes and Musings with 6 comments

Some say it is just another one of those social network hypes, while many others claim it is a bandwagon that every brand should be pouncing on. One thing is for sure, the recent buzz and excitement surrounding Pinterest is massive and without a doubt hard to miss. If you are one of the few that are still not familiar with ‘pinning’ – you will be soon.

Pinterest for GLAMs: Europeana’s Experiment

Pinterest is a social network that responds to what us humans do naturally: collect things we like. It allows its users (now over 11 million) to create and share virtual ‘pin boards’ of images and videos that they find on the web or from their computer. Add to that the social dimension of the web and ‘et voilà’ – success is imminent.

Its recent success is backed up by the impressive figures that have been surrounding the newcomer. It was, for instance, big news in February when Pinterest outperformed Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined in terms of referral traffic. More recently, the online sharing site Shareaholic published numbers that are even more impressive: Pinterest is now generating more referral traffic than Twitter. That’s huge, especially when you take into account the fact that the website is still by invitation only.

Interestingly, it is not the front end of Pinterest that has sparked a fierce discussion, that dubious honour goes to the lengthy body of text that most people never read: Terms of Use. If you do, you will find that Pinterest are pretty much free to do whatever they want with your images:

“[…]you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”

The fact that Pinterest makes this statement does not necessarily mean that they will do all these things with your content. What it does mean is that you as a user should be aware of this, and in fact should be ‘pinning’ content that is either yours (you are the maker or rights holder), or work that is in the Public Domain (meaning that the copyrights have expired).

That also (very much) goes for Europeana – and for that matter, everyone in the cultural heritage sector. Due to its social and visually oriented nature, Pinterest does have a lot of potential for cultural institutions. With its slick interface, and its childishly simple approach to sharing thematic collections of content, it is not surprising to learn that Pinterest is now the fastest growing online network in history. This presents a great potential, but unfortunately not without its pitfalls.

At Europeana HQ we have already been testing the waters for a while now with a wide variety of Public Domain content from all over Europe. We have chosen to test ride a number of themes to get the hang of what works best, such as Art Nouveau, Books & Print, Jewellery, Royalty, Film Posters and European Landmarks. We choose these themes not only because the Europeana network have plenty of nice materials to build boards with, but first and foremost because the Pinterest community has shown to be very art-culture-travel-lifestyle minded. Even with the limitations of Public Domain, it has not been too hard to create an interesting experience for end users.

Join Us in a Pinterest Collaboration

Our aim is to be a springboard for ideas that inspire and engage people through their culture and heritage. Pinterest is one of the platforms that we think deserves some attention. That is why we invite our users to follow us, and our partners to collaborate with us on the creation beautiful boards that will hopefully attract a lot of people. If you are interested or want more information – contact us at marcomms@europeana.eu.

Remember to report back to the Europeana blog for regular updates on our Pinterest (and other) adventures.

March 26 – UPDATE: Pinterest updated their Terms of Use

Important news from the Pinterest team. Last Saturday morning, they announced a big change to some of the most controversial parts of their Terms of Use statement.

Some key changes:

> Commercial use of User Content banned completely

Pinterest responds to a fierce discussion about the site making money from pins. The notice from Saturday highlights that “Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.” This does not, however, imply that Europeana can now pin any content beyond Public Domain, since for instance Creative Commons licenses will not transfer onto Pinterest. It does however mean that the Europeana Network are now free to pin copyright materials, since the original copyright will be respected. Pinning of copyrighted materials will, of course, always be done in consultation with the data provider.

> An API is upcoming

A good way to mash Europeana content with that on Pinterest could be an API. Pinterest now announced that they are working on one. The statement is not clear about its release date, but they will probably be giving more information on that when all the other changes go into effect, on April 6th.