Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pinterest 5: the Clone Invasion

Predictably, the Pinterest clones have begun emerging:
  • Clipix, the life-organizer with a private option
  • Fa Xian, China's version built by Alibaba
  • Dart It Up, the male-oriented alternative
  • Snatchly, for sharing favorite porn images
You can tell you have a good idea when other, lesser "entrepreneurs" spend all their creative effort on imitating you.

Myself, I started early with Pinterest but left after a few weeks when a certain legal issue arose with their Terms of Service, namely: 1) Pinterest willfully assumes images you link to are your property, 2) Pinterest gives itself the right to sell your images without your acknowledgment, and 3) if the original artist/photographer presses a lawsuit, Pinterest holds itself blameless and forwards all the trouble directly to you. Despite this, and even confronted with this, people cling to ignorance-as-defense: "I thought it was like a bulletin board or a bookmarks list. I don't see anything wrong with that."

[UPDATE: April 1, 2012 - Pinterest intends to revise its Terms of Service, in effect: 1) only discouraging blatant self-promotion, with a function to report copyright violation, and 2) removing its clause about selling images users post. These changes will go into effect April 6, 2012. The inadvertent comedy behind this is that Pinterest insists it's trying to disable exploitation of its service as free advertising, while mainstream media is full of how-to articles for individuals, organizations (Army, White House), and corporations to use Pinterest for exactly this end.]

Dart It Up: toys, cars, sports, and misogyny.
Clipix sounds like what I was using Pinterest for, anyway: a folder for stuff I wanted to keep track of. I started following people who had links to really interesting jackets and clothes, so one folder was like a shopping list for that time in the future when I'll have discretionary funds. I will miss it for that: someone had access to these amazing Asian distributors I never would've heard of on my own.

The only difference between Dart It Up and Snatchly is that the former will also include sports, cars, gadgets, and firearms (or the latter lacks those). Snatchly will feature out-and-out nudity, while Dart It Up posts only show bikinis and... I don't get why anyone finds the Olson Twins attractive, when every picture makes them look like they were dug out of rubble after a week of rescue attempts. Maybe these guys get off on tragedy. Each of these services, ultimately, will succeed by reinforcing negative male stereotypes, a trend men don't fight very hard against. The lesson here: cynicism is profitable.

Dart It Up's mission statement is that it is a reaction to Pinterest's trending: manly-men didn't feel secure about posting their interests (man-cave accouterments, soft-core porn, &c.) in a gallery of women's interests: dresses, fingernail designs, hairstyles, dresses, shoes, make-up, accessories, and more dresses. Which is strange, because you can make your posts private or share them with friends. Why would someone be ashamed to post their interests unless they acknowledge they are shameful? What Dart It Up provides, then, is permission to be an asshole, just as Pinterest reinforces women being materialistic, shallow girly-girls: in fact, they're starting to address their problem with the pro-anorexia/bulimia movement known, among other facades, as "Thinspiration."

So clearly Pinterest answered a need. I don't think it created a need, I think it presented an elegant solution to something people wanted to do, something that had been touched on by other social media. People want to group these things and they want to show off their prizes. Is that a hunting instinct? A sense of accomplishment, in a surplus society where priorities have shifted from things you do to things you own?

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