Introduction to Pinterest

If you don’t know about Pinterest, you can think of it as an image-based social bookmarking tool. It works a lot like Diigo, except that instead of bookmarking websites, you “pin” images from websites to a virtual pinboard. Since we’ll be dealing with data visualization in this course, a social bookmarking site that emphasizes images is a good match for our needs.

If you do know about Pinterest, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m doing asking you to use it for your academic work! I know that most people who use Pinterest use it to save and share images they like of craft projects, baking ideas, fashion, and the like. But there’s nothing that says that Pinterest can only be used for such things. It’s a tool for saving and sharing images of all kinds, so why not use it for statistics images?

Either way, to get a sense of how you might use Pinterest in this course, take a look at a couple of my boards on Pinterest, one focusing on visual thinking and one on cryptography.

To get started using Pinterest, head to and request an invitation to join.It can take a couple of days for an invitation to arrive, so go ahead and do this as soon as possible. One you get your invitation via email, you’ll need to create an account on Pinterest using a Facebook or Twitter account.

As I mentioned in my introduction to Diigo, if you use your real, full name on a social bookmarking site, your bookmarks could very well show up when someone Googles your name. That may be great if you have a set of bookmarks that show how smart and interesting you are. But you may want your social bookmarks to be in a more private space. For the purposes of this course, you’re welcome to use a pseudonym for your Pinterest account, as long as you let me know what it is. Since Pinterest accounts are based on Facebook and Twitter accounts, that means you’ll have to create a pseudonymous Twitter account first.

Once you get the invite from Pinterest, just follow the instructions. I won’t go through a bunch of screenshots here. Pinterest is a user-friendly site and its enrollment process is particularly easy to follow.

What’s a little trickier is sharing your course-related “pins” with the rest of the class. Pinterest doesn’t have a group feature like Diigo, so we’ll need to do a little hacking. You’ll need to do two things:

  1. Send me the URL for your Pinterest page.
  2. Include the text “#math216” in the description of all course-related pins.

Then you can look for your course-related pins, along with those from other students in the course, in the right-hand column here on the course blog. If you have any questions about using Pinterest with this course, just let me know.

(If you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff: On my end, I’ll use the very clever web service ifttt (if-this-then-that) to monitor your Pinterest page and copy any pins with “#math216” in them to a dedicated Twitter account (@db_tricorder). The feed for that Twitter account appears in the righthand column here on the course blog, making it easy to see all course-related pins in one place.)


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  1. Pingback: When Statistics Is Like a Wedding :: Agile Learning

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