Pinterest as Portfolio

Portfolio - side view

Pinterest. It’s been called “Napster for Housewives” in Forbes, and Laura McKenna notes that its “lethal combination of social media competition and escapism” hooks the “Aspirational Housewife” in us all.

To hearken back to a 1980s IABC study I read while a university student, is it the “Velvet Ghetto” of social networks? Or, is there more to it? Are there business uses for Pinterest beyond fashion and food? Nikki Pilkington points out the user makeup is a different story in the UK, where men visit the site more frequently.

While I’m still working out the answers to that for brands such as my own employer Dell (I’m part of the team that’s trying things out with some of the company’s first boards in Pinterest), I stumbled across one idea that I think has merit for personal business use – a visual professional portfolio.

I wish I could say I thought of this myself, but I actually saw it somewhere else first. Kelly Barrett created a “Kelly Barrett, the Professional” board and, if memory serves me correct, Rachael King tweeting that is how it first crossed my radar. Then, I also ran across the “my CV” board from Nadav Raviv – not part of that male UK contingent mentioned before, but rather a Pinterest user in Israel.

So, I took the idea from others before me and started my own professional portfolio board. Originally, I dubbed it my “Visual CV,” after memories of the VisualCV networking site I’d joined in 2008, but never used. It sounded cool back then when it was in “early Public Beta phase,” but it always seemed like something that would require too much of my time to set up. So, when I got an email toward the end of 2011 saying it was shutting down, it was no surprise and I congratulated myself on not having invested much time on it. But, it turns out the rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated, or more accurately, that someone else decided to revive it through an acquisition.

And, I still think VisualCV sounds like a good idea. But pinning, is just so easy! If you’re a creative professional (but maybe not this creative) in this day & age, most likely you can find lots of pinnable material online to illustrate your work. It’s as easy to start as doing an ego searchon Google.  (and if the tips in that link from Lifehacker don’t help you with it, then you might have a “Google Credibility” issue you need to address)

Once you’ve searched around and found some items you’re particularly proud of, you can pin away! Adding the “pin it” button to your browser makes it that much easier. Here is the result of one afternoon I spent pinning: Portfolio – Laura P Thomas.

Just keep a few quick tips in mind:

  • Pinterest automatically arranges items in your board in order you pin them. If you want chronological order to the board, you’ll need to be a bit more methodical in your pinning.
  • If you have a career that spans more than the past decade, it’s likely to be tough to find the old stuff online. There are ways you can get creative to fix this. Upload an image you’d like to use for illustration to some place like Flickr, Facebook or your G+ account (somewhere you don’t mind pointing people toward).
  • Even when it is online, not everything you want to showcase will have a pretty image. This can be addressed in the creative way listed above and supplemented with a link in the description to point to more detail about the actual project or the resulting media story.

Since this was not an original idea of mine, it’s likely that many of you may have already created professional boards on Pinterest. If so, please share links and tips in the comments!

Photo via Creative Commons courtesy Bill Ohl

Trying to Understand the Cult of Instagram

Instagram

I was amazed how yesterday’s announcement that Facebook would buy Instagram overtook my twitterstream, prompted emails amongst coworkers and generally created a huge uproar.

Beyond amazement at the dollar amount involved, the overwhelming response I saw was from unhappy Instagram users. People are even giving out instructions on how to export all your photos “before Facebook ruins everything” and delete your Instagram account.

What am I not getting? Such weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over an app that adds filters and edge effects to your phone photos?

Maybe it’s because I spent so much time in desktop publishing in a previous life, starting on PageMaker even before it was owned by Adobe. I’ve lived through the advent of image edge effects made easy and witnessed the subsequent overuse in the late 90s. I anticipated this app would run a similar course.

I also aligned with Chris Ziegler when he and Dieter Bohn debate on the Verge whether “the retro-hip filters [are] destroying the visual internet or are they simply the zeitgeist of our time?”  Like Chris, I saw Instagram as a false artistry, a crutch, “a misguided replacement for a properly composed shot and a decent sensor.”

And that’s why I stayed away. I’m obviously missing something, though, when there is such devotion to Instagram.

Dieter countered that “When most people share photos, they’re trying to share their experience at that moment. Adding a filter is a way to make what came out of an inaccurate image sensor feel more true to that moment.”

Ok, so I can see where there might be a place and time for an effect to tell a story. And maybe every picture does tell a story, as Rod Stewart sang; but, come on – it’s an app to make photos look fancy, right? Why all the hullabaloo?

“You’re more than an app: you are an extraordinary community, and that’s what I fell in love with,” opined Tim Malbon. And one of his blog commentors added “Instagram was/is about intimacy.”  So, evidently, users were doing more than just broadcasting their fanci-fied photos to Twitter. There were connections being made within Instagram itself.

One of the Instagram co-founders, Kevin Systrom, described it during the TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing conference as “a photo-based social network.” He also added:

“I didn’t start this to be a photo app. It was about communicating visually. Those are two very different things. A photo app is a utility. It’s like comparing Twitter to Microsoft Word. If you want to be an author, you’re not always going to constrain yourself to 140 characters.”

So, in that light, I guess the angst is caused because users are worried their little (if, 30 million users, is little) community will get lost in the larger Facebook community.

Apparently 20 percent of Instagram users already connect their accounts with Facebook, but they weren’t all exactly welcoming to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently when he posted on their site

Photo via Creative Commons by Aleks Grynis

Forgive Me for I Have Not Blogged (SXSW Made Me Do It)

It’s been three months since my last post here. That’s probably enough to take away my blogger card. Or at least hurt my blogger cred.

I could blame it on the holidays, of course. And, then the first three months of the year seem to have been totally sucked up by SXSW. Yeah, I know that’s just a couple of weeks, but it takes a lot of work to prepare for those weeks when you’re doing more than just attending or even speaking.

I took to calling myself “chief cat herder” because we were all over the place trying to make sure the everyone who came to SXSWedu, Interactive, Film and Music knew that they were in the hometown of Dell.

Our presence at SXSW included everything from participating in numerous panels, hosting an Entrepreneurs UnConference at Dell, organizing several “What’s your More?” music and film brand activations, having a Dell@retail booth in the event tradeshow, sponsoring the gaming Screenburn Arcade showcase, prominently placing over 300 products throughout the festival, launching a new education campaign and bringing our Social Media Command Center onsite at the event.

When your child tells random people how glad they are that SXSW is over, you know you’ve been spending too much time on it. It took seven posts just to hit the highlights over on Direct2Dell, but you can see some of it in this new video we just put out:

But, the truth is, there’s always something else to take up my time. And if there isn’t, I’ll find it. Because I really don’t know what to do when I don’t have 10 things to do.

So, I’m making it a goal to get back to being more active here. I’m also going to get more active in IABC. I rejoined my local LSU Alumni board last year, too, and vow to be a much better co-chair for our scholarship fundraiser this year.

It almost feels like New Year’s or something with all these resolutions! Now I just need to start exercising…