Easy Pinning with Pinterest

pinterestPin it! Well, that’s it basically…

One of my colleagues from my old job sent me an invitation to pinterest, which she said she was already addicted to. Because I try about every new internet thing I find I quickly registered and checked it out and so far I like it. It’s been less than 24 hours though, so we’ll see whether I will stick to it.

So what is it? The screenshot should give you a pretty good example. My first impression was that it reminded me a lot of tumblr, which I love to pieces, insofar that it allow for easy sharing of things you found on the web. It is a lot like tumblr, but then it’s not. From what I could see so far, pinterest is images only and the whole experience is different from tumblr.

On pinterest’s own site, they say the following:

Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create collections of things you love and „follow“ collections created by people with great taste.

People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things — wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.

One major difference is that on pinterest you have boards, so that you can group whatever it is you want to share. You can follow other user’s boards, either all of them or selected ones. You can repin or like other user’s pins or just add new ones. All pins usually are linked to their site of origin, so that for any yummy food picture you can follow the trail back to the recipe, or you can follow the pin of that awesome dress to the actual vendor’s site.

All in all, great idea, lovely implementation. It’s very easy to use, pretty and sleek and I agree with Daniela, it’s crazily addictive.

The only problem for me so far is that it’s hard for me to keep up with all the services I signed up for. I’m trying hard to keep this blog alive, and while I have tons of ideas for articles in my head I never seem to find the time to write them down. (Who am I kidding, I’m so busy trying to finally catch up with my TV shows AND finishing George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books in time for the fifth one in July AND enjoying the lovely weather we have here AND practicing to play on my ukulele that I’d need another three to four hours a day to do all the things I want to.)

Anyway, I already use tumblr and I don’t know whether the two services are too much alike – at least for me – to be able to keep up with both of them (and I’d probably choose tumblr over pinterest if it came to that). However, since it’s easy to use and practically no hassle at all, I’m not ruling out that in the future you’ll find the stuff I like on this  blog and on tumblr and on pinterest. (And here’s what my friend Daniela likes.)

If you check it out and start to pin, leave me a note.

This Geek Girl Would Like to Disagree

So, some of you might be acquainted with the whole Ginia Bellafante/Game of Thrones/Boy Fiction thing that’s been going on in the last couple of days.

If you haven’t, that’s the article in which she is „reviewing“ HBO’s Game of Thrones. And this is her reaction to the mass of outraged replies that first article has earned her.

In a nutshell, I’m with those who say they don’t care about whether she did or did not like the pilot episode of GoT. I usually watch what sounds interesting and don’t really care about what critics or – for that matter – anyone else thinks about it. And I think it’s fair that people don’t like what I like and the other way round. What I care about is that I, too, felt personally offended by what she wrote, and I’m not even that much of a GoT fan. I have only read the first book and enjoyed it a lot and I partly read it now so that I would be able to watch the show with a bit of context.

However, there are already a lot of blog posts out there from girls like me who have written down their thoughts and I agree nearly completely with what they all have to say, so I feel there’s no special need for me to write another reply in which I say what hundreds of other people have already stated very clearly.

What I would like to say though is that I’m always so disappointed when I come upon people who look down on what other people like and act like they’re better because they read supposedly  better books or watch better movies or even don’t have a TV at all, because TV is bad and books are great. 

Hey, guess what? I read lots and lots of books and I currently don’t have a TV for most of the week and when I’m at home on the weekends we sometimes manage to spend it nearly entirely without watching. I’m still able to stare in amazement at some of the crappier shows and love every minute of it without being ashamed to talk about it. 

In her reply to the comments Bellafante writes:

At the same time, I am sure that there are fantasy fans out there who may not know a single person who worships at the altar of quietly hewn domestic novels or celebrates the films of Nicole Holofcener or is engrossed by reruns of “House.”

I’m not sure what counts as quietly hewn domestic novels, and I think I have seen nothing by Mrs. Holofcener, but I really love watching „House“. I also watch „How I Met Your Mother“ and „Grey’s Anatomy“ and „Psych“ and „Parenthood“ and „The Chicago Code“ and „Supernatural“ and „Dexter“ and… yeah, you get the picture. (Too many shows, basically.) My last books have been some fantasy and science fiction novels, but also some classic children’s books (The Enchanted Castle and Anne of Green Gables), Room by Emma Donoghue and the heart-breakingly sad and charming The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Yes, I enjoy fantasy and science fiction. I might enjoy them a tiny bit more than lots of other genres, but that doesn’t mean I’m a fantasy and sci-fi fan. I’m a book fan. I’m also a music fan. And a TV fan. And a movie fan. And the only reason why I don’t watch horror movies anymore is not because I think they’re stupid, but because I won’t go through another week where I have to get up at 3 am to babysit my TV to make sure that no goddamn girl crawls out of there. I also watched only about half of I Am Legend because for the other half of the time I had my hands before my eyes. I like horror films, I’m just not very good at dealing with them.

But I’ve watched plenty of artsy French movies from the 60s as well as Japanese anime, comedies of all kinds (the romantic and the funny), thrillers, dramas, and I still think that Twister is really cool and Con Air is freaking awesome. I can do all these things.

I guess my issue with Mrs. Bellafante’s review and the quote isn’t even that she seems to be looking down on fantasy fans. That is bad enough by itself. What’s even worse is that she cannot seem to imagine that you don’t even have to be a fan to like reading fantasy. I’m not a fantasy fan per se. There is a lot of what is probably essential fantasy that I haven’t read and don’t currently plan to. I just like it a lot.

One reason why I enjoy fantasy and science fiction literature so much is that the really good stuff is mind-blowingly inventive. The nature of these genres allows them to go to places other literature can’t easily go as the authors are free to make up a world entirely of their imagination. But that doesn’t make the genre any better or worse than other books. (And it’s not that I’m saying other books can’t be imaginative and inventive, but it’s somehow different there. Read The Eyre Affair or Un Lun Dun  or Neverwhere if you want to know what I mean.)

What I do take pride in is that I never let any label determine whether I like something or not. I feel that as an intelligent woman I can just read and watch and listen to anything I like and I don’t need to care if it’s considered good or bad or high-brow or low-brow or if it has any label attached to it. I assume that I can decide for myself whether I like it or not and that others are entitled to their own opinion and that we can happily agree to disagree.

The notion that we are divided into genre-lovers disturbs me on a level I can’t quite explain. Basically it sounds incredibly stupid to me. But that’s the subtext I read in the articles of Ginia Bellafante. First she says she doesn’t know any female fantasy lovers. When called upon that she admits that there might be some, but automatically adds that there is a chance that these fans might not be interested in what she’s interested in.

When I felt offended it wasn’t as a fantasy fan, it was as a girl who enjoys reading fantasy books among others and doesn’t like to be assumed to fall into any category that defines what she should and shouldn’t like. I was offended as a person who enjoyed reading GoT and other „books like Mr. Martin’s„. And I was offended by a lack of professionalism and respect for other people which resulted in a review like that.

Game-Base Everything

I recently joined StackOverflow because we had some problems with FxCop that nobody could really explain, so the last option was to register for StackOverflow and ask there. I’ve noticed for some time now that this forum provides what are most probably the best answers to any development problem up to the point where I would add „stack overflow“ to any Google search regarding programming issues.

After asking the question and waiting for the answers I realized how immediately infecting the reputation-based system of StackOverflow is. There I was with my sad little 11 reputation points, 1 single badge and one question with no votes so far. If your the least bit competitive and a tiny bit insane, that’s going to bug the hell out of you. After all, you want more points, more badges, more votes, more reactions. At least that’s what happens with me.

So, I started to poke around the rest of StackOverflow, found questions to answer, added comments here and there and slowly my reputation points went up. Another nice side effect is that this blog gets a bit more traffic. Don’t know how many people stick around, but it feels good to gradually get more hits from all over the world.

The genius of StackOverflow is that reputation points are based on the rest of the community not on sheer input you feed into the system. In other words: StackOverflow rewards quality, not quantity. Most other online forums simply reward the quantity of posts with some kind of reward system. It doesn’t matter whether you post a detailed problem solution or just a „Okay. Thanks. I’ll try that.“ Your posts will be treated the same.

StackOverflow on the other hand won’t give you any reward until someone else from the community says that your answer or comment is actually worth it. Plus, there’s a penance if your fellow StackOverflow users thinks that your question or answer is kind-of-crap. The effect is that people are forced to actually think about what they’re writing (be it a question or an answer), rather than just typing in some unreadable, unclear and basically not-thought-through stuff and hoping that everyone else will just ignore that you obviously weren’t willing to spent a few minutes on thinking about what you’re writing.

It also makes sure that the answers for the most time are a lot better than in most other forums, because an answer that is either wrong, incomplete, unhelpful or just hard to understand will probably not be getting you any points and therefore probably not worth writing at all.

How I think about this, I am pretty much assuming that most users of StackOverflow share the little competitive and game-affine trait that I have. But, yes, I think they do. I think that getting points and climbing up in some kind of hierarchy is something that is addictive to most of us who spent a lot of their time at the computer even when they’re not at work. It just gets us. It’s what makes so many time-wasting small web games so popular. It’s what makes location-aware services like Foursquare and Gowalla work. Because, let’s face it: We all like to play rather than work. And if you make what we would otherwise perceive as work seem like a game to us, you win.

So adding a game-like feature to something that is actually more than a game is pure genius. It makes a forum that probably would have been very good anyway an amazingly great forum. So I salute whoever originally said „How about we make it reputation based, but… different?“ It was a great idea. And it worked.