Pinwheel: maps and dreams

I really am starting to get confused, what with the similarities in name between Pinterest and Pinwheel. I recently joined both (out of professional interest), and had no idea whether I’d like them or not.

My default position is not, generally. I quite liked Path when I first got it on my phone, but then they “improved” it and I started to hate it. One of the key “improvements” that will always destroy a social tool is the insistence on Facebook integration. Today’s news is that Instagram, the pointless photo sharing service which was sometimes a convenient way to post a photo to Twitter, has been acquired by Facebook.

You look at social networking startups and wonder how serious they are, or whether the whole strategy is to create something vaguely popular that can then be acquired by Google, or Apple, or Facebook. Flickr was acquired by Yahoo, who then proceeded to do precisely nothing with it (bar changing your log-in). Which is fine by me. Flickr is still more or less what it was.

Caterina Fake, one of the founders of Flickr, has since moved on to found Hunch (which I joined and decided I didn’t much like, especially once the sponsored recommendations descended on it); and now she’s founded another startup, Pinwheel, which is nothing like Pinterest, except when it is.

Pinwheel is in private Beta (I think that’s the term: invite-only) at the moment, but more invites are being sent out to those on the waiting list every week (I have three to spare, if you want one). I joined it a couple of weeks ago and so far I like it a lot. I like it a lot more than just about anything else I’ve tried out of professional interest.

I still use Flickr, but only as a repository for what I consider to be my better photos, in case of hard drive disaster or something like that. I don’t do the social side of Flickr at all. You can only say, “Great shot,” so many times and in so many ways. What Flickr taught me is that any idiot (including me) can take a decent photograph.

Pinwheel fits into the Slow Internet idea (I posted about Slow Music yesterday), which is also in the air because of the new iPhone app Fish, which is worth a look.

Pinwheel about geotagging, and for me it works best when you have a picture of the place in question. Drop a pin on a map, write a story about the place (personal, public, it’s up to you), and add a photo to the entry. In this way, you can revisit memories, favourite photos, or just post useful information. I think the site will pay for itself at some point with sponsored pins, but at the moment I like the way it encourages you to pause and pore over a map and read something about that spot. It certainly suits the way I think, and seems to be a better place for those kind of blog entries you might post about your travels or even memories of childhood.

For some reason, it keeps making me think of Hugh Brody’s title, Maps and Dreams.

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