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+.
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.