A clearer picture?

AoB Plants Pinboard In my role as Internet Consulting Editor for Annals of Botany, I spend a fair amount of time coun­ter­act­ing the idea that the job is all about jump­ing on the latest Internet fad, or in being in some way a “techie” or a “geek”. It’s not — this job is all about people. It’s about using tech­no­logy to ensure we are best serving our exist­ing read­er­ship of plant sci­ent­ists, but also about reach­ing new audi­ences who might be inter­ested in our con­tent if only they are able to find it. We want to show people what we are about, and allow them to talk to us and ask ques­tions. But to have those con­ver­sa­tions with a world­wide read­er­ship, we need to use the right tools, and so I’m always inter­ested in new devel­op­ments. We recently set up our new Google+ page, and already have hun­dreds of people read­ing AoB con­tent through that route. And when I heard about the latest Internet sen­sa­tion Pinterest, I was imme­di­ately inter­ested in its potential.

Pinterest is a web­site which allows users to cre­ate col­lec­tions of online images and to share them with oth­ers via the site itself and through social net­works such as Facebook and Twitter. The growth of Pinterest has been explos­ive in recent months, very remin­is­cent of the early days of Twitter. In spite of that, I have to admit that my first reac­tion to Pinterest was quite neg­at­ive because I struggled to see how images alone could be use­ful to us. However, I’m not will­ing to dis­miss tools without first hand exper­i­ence of using them, and as I said to Anne Osterrieder a few days ago, while I was strug­gling with Pinterest myself, “If I was selling cars or Daniel Radcliffe’s agent, I’d be all over Pinterest like a rash”. Clearly, it was time for an exper­i­ment.

I star­ted by post­ing some links to books I had read. OK, but I still wasn’t com­pletly con­vinced. The next stage was to set up a “Pinboard” for the Digital Researcher con­fer­ence. This seemed to work quite well, and by using the con­fer­ence hashtag #dr12vitae, attrac­ted a fair amount of interest across Twitter and Google+.

However, there is a com­plic­a­tion with Pinterest in the Terms of Use, where, in order to pro­tect itself, Pinterest claims non-exclusive copy­right to the images pos­ted to the site by users. There has been some dis­cus­sion about the pos­sible implic­a­tions of this for Pinterest users and while the situ­ation is not com­pletely clear, it nev­er­the­less seemed worth­while con­tinu­ing to exper­i­ment. Since AoB Plants is an open access journal dis­trib­uted under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License which per­mits unres­tric­ted non-commercial reuse, this seemed like an ideal place to start. More import­antly, AoB Plants has a wealth of fant­astic images ideally suited to a visual medium such as Pinterest, so the AoB Plants Pinboard was born.

It’s too soon to say whether Pinterest will work the same way for us that Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have done, but the pos­sib­il­ity of bring­ing a whole new audi­ence to AoB is too good to res­ist. And that’s what exper­i­ments are all about.

AJ Cann. ORCID 0000-0002-9014-3720

Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester and formerly Internet Consulting Editor for AoB.

1 Response

  1. Emma says:

    Guess it’s always worth hav­ing a play; I could see some uses (maybe) for my web & mul­ti­me­dia students.

    So, have reques­ted an invite; lets see what happens.

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