I’ve been writing a lot lately about the possibilities and limitations of a “Scholarly Pinterest.” In this post, I discuss a few final thoughts, concerns, and possibilities that I have encountered in this project.
In the end, I think Pinterest is too far removed from traditional modes of argumentation to be uptaken by scholars as a medium for full publication. But the triple mode of meaning making that Pinterest affords isn’t limited to sustained argumentation across several pins or a full board. A single pin can carry a “micro-argument” across pin feeds and make new meaning each time it is pinned and re-pinned.
Maybe that’s one reason that academics might shy away from making meaning on Pinterest–because every time something is pinned, their artifact could lose some of its original intended meaning. A reader could introduce new text to the pin which, juxtaposed with the pin’s image and link, creates something new that the author never intended. It’s “Death of the Author” in action. That can be scary for authors, but it can also be a little exciting–and maybe a little bit of both.
But imagine the possibilities!
Scholarly Pinterest’s Best Chance
I think Scholarly Pinterest’s best chance of surviving and thriving is in its ability to collect and share hyperlinks–as a tool for collection and reach. We don’t have to let go of sustained, linear argumentation–we just have to learn to share. Scholars who don’t want to work within the image/500 character text that Pinterest affords can instead host their scholarship elsewhere and share it via Pinterest.
And what if we did share? What if I could scroll through my Pinterest feed and see Collin Gifford Brooke’s latest blog post, or Lawrence Lessig’s or Michael Wesch’s latest videos? What if we could connect scholars all across the academy in the time it takes to scroll and click?
We can, but I don’t know that we will, at least any time soon. It takes itme to craft and develop an online persona, to publish in easily-pinnable outlets, and to gather an academic following on Pinterest. Time spent there is time spent away from projects intended for the Cs, RSA, RSQ, Written Communication, book projects, and so on. Until the institutional powers-that-be embrace and reward new forms of scholarship, development and uptake of these new forms–including Pinterest–especially Pinterest–will lag. And that may not be until my generation of academics sits on tenure boards. By then, I’m sure there will be other, newer developments at stake as well and Pinterest’s time may have passed.
But. Because I am, by nature, an optimist and an idealist, I’m going to see what I can do to move things along. “Every little bit helps,” said the old woman as she spit into the sea.
Well, here’s my–wait, maybe that’s not the best metaphor. Here’s my… contribution. My hope is that this project will live beyond its genesis as a class assignment–that I’ll receive feedback from my instructor regarding how to better craft it for publication. I’ll start seeking journals (like Kairos, perhaps?) that accept publications in multiple digital formats and try my hand there. I’ll attempt to build an academic Pinterest following and collect and share interesting scholarship with both the academics and non-academics who follow me. (Don’t worry–my geek boards will still get plenty of love too. I’m confident they can all coexist, if not happily, then at least peacefully.)
It’s time to start that journey. Welcome to academia, Pinterest.