Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pinner Obituaries

It's October already and we've been exploring the conflict between the crowdscraper Pinterest and the content creators who suffer the scraping since May. Today, we're pausing to look at the big picture.

Once a robust tool to support faster and better creative outputs, computers have now devolved into perma-obsolescing digital consumption platforms.

It wasn't so long ago that computers revolutionized how we type, archive, and design; machines were welded to every work desk. Some of us may even remember some warnings about how anyone not proficient with PASCAL or COBOL programming languages would be unemployable. The internet became a repository for volunteered information, a virtual encyclopedia of human knowledge and pursuit.

Would there come a time where there the marginal value of an extra bit of information on the web would approach zero, and we'd just piss time away re-arranging and re-exploiting what is already there and accessible? We would have hoped not.

On the other end of what has become a spectrum, cell phones, after a bout of getting smaller, started to get smarter.

For a while we fumbled and put tiny keyboards on cell phones, but by and large, the tendency is to drop the keyboard. With this trend, written communications reached unprecedented brevity (think: Twitter). Their worth diminished, and the time invested in each communication suffered a similar fate.

Laptop keyboards aren't particularly ergonomic, and don't get much love. The touchscreen tablet was born.

Technology has progressed in a way that has led us down the path of least resistance. Instead of using computers to create, build, and transform, our hands firmly on the mouse and the keyboard, we are now consuming farmvilles, images, illegal music downloads, youtube pratfalls and social rewards such as likes and followers. It must be depressing for microprocessors these days. Like The Hitchhiker's Guide robot Marvin, brain the size of a planet, reduced to performing menial tasks like fetching meek, cooperating ship intruders.

This is where Pinterest fits in. Scroll with your index, press the pinmarklet, and you've scraped content for Big Brother. You moved some electrons, re-arranged some zeros and ones off a big server somewhere, and completely wasted your time. Each like represents one unit of someone acknowledging your existence from the anonymous time-wasting masses, and the illusion that you're doing something worthwhile. It's an illusion. Pinning is doing nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Someday, when the pinners from the Pinner Hall of Shame are laying in their coffins, the survivors will say, in their obituraries: "she pinned a lot of pictures on the internet." And the kids will laugh, because there may be no internet left to speak of, abandoned the same way computer punch cards once were. "What's the internet, mom? Is it what you used before we switched to the stratocube?"


ohnostudio said...

It was about 3 years ago I think when the aggregators were hitting full stride that I read an article titled Where Have All The Creators Gone? or something similar. The article noted the lack of truly original content, everyone was just riding on the true innovators.

Stratocube? I left that long ago and now I'm on the Nanopipe ;-)

BTW your Hall of Shame link does not exist, at least not with the URL you used.

A Glass Artist said...

I fixed the link! I guess I need to stop wasting time on the Nanocube, it's so yesterday...

arlee said...

Thanks so much for this post and this blog!! I figure "Pinhercrap" is one big boring board game where everyone moves around their stoopid little squares, thinking they are winning something.After all, if you have 11tybajillion followers you Must Be Popular! And it really pisses me off when my work is pinned and then not attributed correctly or even worse credited to the "famous artist" pinner who stole it in the first place.

Leslie Hawes said...

Here's a link to my original writing blog post, "Purple Cow... A Cautionary Tale" that I made specifically to illustrate the plight of the content creator:

And, yes, I drew that picture of the cow, and NO, you should not be able to pin it.
I added a Wordpress widget to prevent pinning. Give it a try and see if you can pin it, and if the widget is doing its job. I'd be curious to know. If you do get it to 'pin', then you'd better delete it fast, or I will 'strike' you like a lightning bolt! :)