I mean, I got it. I understood what it is: a site for people to post (“pin”) images they find on the net, group them as they see fit, and share those groups with other people. What I didn’t get is why anyone would want to do this.
“Denizens of the Internet! Behold: some fashions I find appealing! And houses I wish I could afford! And pictures of Liam Neeson punching wolves!”
That changed when Grant Rodiek tweeted about using the service to gather reference images for his new boardgame. I followed his link, and then I got it. Here, in one place, was a page full of curated images directly relevant to expressing his ideas of the game. It was like a Google image search, frozen in time for all to see, displaying just the best images.
For writers, game designers, and other world-builders who aren’t artists, Pinterest serves as a way to pull together visual reference both for yourself (“Yes, the zombie clown blimp looks something like this…”) and for your creative partners (“Dear artist, please make the zombie clown blimp look something like this…”).
Yes, Flickr and other photo-sharing sites can do essentially the same thing, but Pinterest is infinitely more convenient. Rather downloading the images you need, then uploading them to the site in question (a process that can take minutes!), you just point directly to the image itself where ever it lives on the Internet. One click, and it’s pinned.
So have I started using Pinterest for my own world-building projects? Yup. I’ve set up a board for Karthador (that pulp sci-fi RPG I’ve been writing for Reality Blurs) dedicated to that world’s airships and what they look like. Here’s a handy link if you want to check it out and follow along.
All that being said… I still don’t know why anyone other than a reference-hoarding creator would want to use the service.
After all, how many pictures of Liam Neeson punching wolves do you need?