Join 3,427 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Pinterest and Feminism
March 9, 2012 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Take Wikipedia: 87% of its contributors are male; a bigger discrepancy than Pinterest by any count. However, when discussing Wikipedia, it certainly is not the norm to go on and on about how male the site is. Instead, it is far more common for the site to be praised for its “neutral point of view.” Pinterest as a tool for analyzing difference vs. dominance feminism. Via The Beheld.
posted by latkes (127 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought all I had to do to show I was progressive was watch Kony. Now I gotta sign up for Pinterest too?
posted by anewnadir at 9:05 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


This article lost me at the sentence "The site has taken off, driving more customers to retail sites than “Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.”

I never considered Google+, Youtube, or LinkedIn as being designed to "drive customers to retail sites".

And, at the end, the sentence "Again, the articles I have linked to and my own analysis do not problematize the male-female binary."

What the hell does that mean????

maybe it's too late, maybe I'm not reading clearly, or maybe none of this makes much sense....
posted by HuronBob at 9:06 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually, Wikipedia and the news media would beg to differ. There's a whole lot of talking and judging about Wikipedia's gender gap going on.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 9:08 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why not just talk about the fact the site is 100% based on copyright infringement?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:13 PM on March 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Bob, huh? Of course those sites are trying to drive retail traffic - selling adspace and demographic data is how they generate revenue. Remember the maxim posted here some time ago: if you're not paying for it, you're the product.

When she says she hasn't problematized the male/female binary, she's saying "here's a flaw that my article has."

In brief:
1. Male/female is a binary system, in that it has exactly two elements
2. However, real-world gender and sex are not binary
3. Therefore, if you're going to write about gender in culture, ideally you want to address this problem

Does that help?
posted by kavasa at 9:14 PM on March 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


And, no surprise, the tech community, which is still a boys club, has been terrible at writing about how people, especially women, use Pinterest.

Journalism fail.
posted by karathrace at 9:15 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why not just talk about the fact the site is 100% based on copyright infringement?

oh for pete's sake...
posted by odinsdream at 9:16 PM on March 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine how a person would get to one of these feminisms.

You start from the idea that women have been and are being oppressed, or at least short-changed in most areas of human endeavor. This is bad and you want to do something about it, for which you need to get specific. So you notice, say, the othering of the Pinterest userbase, and you want to discourage that somehow.

I imagine that most people who get this far would simply go after the otherers and, I don't know, shame them or get them fired. A few evidently find that unsatisfying. It's not enough to take out some fuckwads, right, because the system that tacitly encourages that kind of behavior is still there. The system in question is society, and is therefore composed of a bunch of overlapping systems that came together more or less by accident. You can't fight that directly, or rather, if you try, you end up the same way as if you'd tried to punch fog.

So you take all those chaotic social forces, observe some property of them that you can talk smack about... or even do serious social research about, perhaps, if the property were something amenable to operationalization, like how you can study poverty by picking some arbitrary percentage of the GDP below which a person is impoverished. You pick a property and you...

Theorize? Is that actually what you call it when you take a single property of a thing and try to tie it in with every other aspect of the thing? When you characterize every other aspect of the thing by the one property? You're certainly building an orderly worldview, which might be enough to qualify it as "theory" in the non-scientific sense. I guess. But that means I've got to put these bodies of feminist theory in the same bag as literary criticism and theology. It's weird.

And then you... keep on going, I guess? A worldview built up in this way can make an excellent organizational tool for a social movement. It gives people something substantive to talk about and bond over.

I was under the impression that the initial goal was to do something about the othering that's happening around Pinterest, and that seems to have gotten lost about two paragraphs ago. I don't know how to get back to that now, unless you're going to push all that feminist theory aside and just do some character assassinations on some techie misogynists.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:19 PM on March 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Great article! I have never heard of the difference vs. dominance theories, so it was very interesting and enlightening to see them laid out in a context that I totally understand.

On the one hand, I think that the difference theory makes life run smoothly and makes us all feel better about ourselves. On the other hand, I think the dominance theory is more realistic and denies complacency. And I am nothing if not complacent. Dang.

great post!
posted by rebent at 9:20 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


And, no surprise, the techjournalism community, which is still a boys club, has been terrible at writing about how people, especially women, use Pinterest.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:21 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


LogicalDash, I would get to it by telling people I know to keep an open mind and not write stuff off just because it's "for the girls."
posted by rebent at 9:21 PM on March 9, 2012


rebent, that still means the difference vs. dominance divide is irrelevant, yet apparently that divide has informed much of the feminist dialog about Pinterest. I don't see how that works.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:23 PM on March 9, 2012


Wikipedia editors vs Pinterest users?

So we are trying to pick a fight between a Mom with an iPad and her man-child who lives in the basement?
posted by wcfields at 9:26 PM on March 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


while we're on the subject, my wife would love a Pinterest "invite" or whatever it's called.
posted by Hoopo at 9:42 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why not just talk about the fact the site is 100% based on copyright infringement?

So you're saying that this Pinterest thing is like the internet?
posted by -harlequin- at 9:44 PM on March 9, 2012 [11 favorites]



Does that help?


no, not really... but, again, it's late...
posted by HuronBob at 9:46 PM on March 9, 2012


LogicalDash: The subtitle is On constructing a lesson plan to teach Pinterest and feminism. It's analyzing Pinterest specifically within the framework of teaching two different forms of feminist theory. It's not an action plan.
posted by Jilder at 10:15 PM on March 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am just really, really happy to see the Beheld get a link here on metafilter (I made a very similar recent comment when Autumn guest posted on Already Pretty, but still). Autumn is an old friend from livejournal. I was like 19 and I don't even know how I found her journal but it was beautiful and there's even an artistry in the way she cultivates links. It makes me happy.

All that said, I still don't get pinterest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:16 PM on March 9, 2012


it is far more common for the site to be praised for its “neutral point of view.”

I've have not heard that sentiment often expressed about Wikipedia.

Pinterest looks neat and I had fun with it for a day or so, but it felt very shallow outside of my immediate friends. Most of the people in various boards were models or looked them, there was very little diversity.

I do not know what this says about my views on feminism.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:17 PM on March 9, 2012


Jilder, I wasn't criticizing the article, or anything really. I'm still trying to understand why these branches of feminism show up around Pinterest in the first place.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:28 PM on March 9, 2012


Anyone who has ever waded through a VfD page knows that 85% male is not a compliment to us men.
posted by michaelh at 10:48 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps mildly off-topic, but I'm curious what a "female" Wikipedia would look like? As a site with a stated goal of neutral-POV, how would this differ the present content?

Wikipedia is a site with a stated goal of neutral-POV, well sourced, cited and fact-oriented articles. Pinterest is a site with a stated goal of "organizing and sharing things you love". It's disingenuous to argue the tyranny of male-kind by saying that Wikipedia is interpreted as "neutral" despite its overabundance of testosterone and Pinterest is not due to the bunny on the front page. Wikipedia is argued to be relatively neutral because that's a standard to which it holds itself.
posted by twooster at 10:53 PM on March 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


while we're on the subject, my wife would love a Pinterest "invite" or whatever it's called.

Unless they have changed something recently, sign up and you'll get an invite pretty dang quick.

All that said, I still don't get pinterest.

The way I started seeing it was for home improvement projects. People have pinboards of things to buy, other boards for do it yourself projects, and other boards of nice setups they like. They'd repin things they want to do with their child's room, or their study, and collect them in their own boards. You can curate a group of projects, items to purchase, or lighting options into a board titled "basement fixup". Michaels is huge there, I think number one for retailers, or something.
posted by cashman at 11:09 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


All that said, I still don't get pinterest.
I came to Pinterest via Ffffound, where I was an active user for three or so years. I’ve been using the site for the past year or so, and it’s probably my second thing to visit instinctively during a quiet moment, after Metafilter. Mostly it’s the perfect place to kick funny or interesting pictures around, and offers opportunities for humor and connection that Ffffound does not. I do try to avoid the front page cupcake / wedding angle of the site, though.
posted by migurski at 11:18 PM on March 9, 2012


The diversity thread from MetaTalk really got me thinking about how the web is gendered, and how gender balances, biases, and ratios are expressed. Frankly, I was surprised that MetaFilter apparently skews male, possibly because most user-names are not explicitly gendered. In Ask, I often find myself checking profiles to see how the asker identifies since it often informs the answer but is non-obvious.

As a woman, I feel completely welcome and normal here, and feel the same way about Wikipedia. Pinterest and Etsy have always struck me as very female-centric. It would be neat to do a study of the perception of gender dominance on various websites... and I would also love to see a MeFi census someday.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:20 PM on March 9, 2012


Wow! I never knew this dilemma had a name! It's a dilemma that exists not just in gender oppression but also in race/class issues too.

I tend to come down on the side of Difference Feminism in these debates, however it's worth noting that Pinterest is "successful" in that it gets its users to engage in that oft-female-stereotyped activity, shopping. I do believe that consumerism is nurtured strongly by the patriarchy, because if women are encouraged to spend so frivolously that they're less able to support themselves, they'll be more dependent on men, who tend to have more money because of the income gap and because they're more likely to invest in stocks, bonds, etc. And all the profit made on selling that shit to women goes to the owners/investors in the companies that sell it, who again are more likely to be men. So if a more female-oriented platform is for shopping, is it just another furtherance of economic domination?
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:54 PM on March 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


This article was far better than I expected from the quoted bit above. I came in expecting to be thoroughly annoyed, and came out with some new information (i.e. difference versus dominance theory) and plenty of common ground. Frankly, I'm happy to hear that there even exists the "difference" point of view, which goes to show that I have a bit of a stereotyped notion of feminism. And I am glad that the author took a fairly balanced point of view. She's obviously right about the notion of men being the "default" gender, just like white people are often thought of as the non-race.

Now, all academic feminists need to do to get their point across to ordinary people is to stop using words like "othering" and "promblematize". I mean, holy fuck, listen to yourself. Shit like that just makes more republicans. I'm pretty sure I could make all the same points without crawling up my own ass, jargon-wise.
posted by Edgewise at 12:10 AM on March 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sorry, I meant "problematize." I'd hate to misspell a made-up word.
posted by Edgewise at 12:12 AM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does anyone have a theory why more men than women use Pinterest in the UK? Is there a "thought leader" sort of person there using Pinterest in a way that especially gets the attention of British males?

Anyway, as an aside that will probably be of interest (and concern?) to those using the site, I'll point out this Business Insider article about possibly alarming TOS items regarding Pinterest users and copyright issue:
"Pinterest's members are solely responsible for what they pin and repin. They must have explicit permission from the owner to post everything."

...

"Basically, if a photographer sues you for pinning an image illegally on Pinterest, the user must not only pay for his or her lawyer, they must also pay for Pinterest's lawyer. In addition, the defendant must pay all charges against him or herself, along with all of Pinterest's charges."
I have no position or other knowledge on this; I just happened to see the article featured in a LinkedIn mailing, so have no idea how actually scary this is, if at all, in real life terms.
posted by taz at 12:37 AM on March 10, 2012


Yeah, just ask Hoopo: I got one in a day or two. They're just throttling the registrations so that they can grow the servers fast enough to match demand I suspect. Also, the waiting period probably helps keep out the trolls.

Interesting that Pinterest is male-dominated in the UK. Can you limit the Pinterest overview by locality?

(I have a Pinterest invite, but balked at letting them access my Facebook or Twitter friends lists. Meant to create a single-use Twitter account so I could log in, but never got round to it...)
posted by pharm at 1:19 AM on March 10, 2012


"Does anyone have a theory why more men than women use Pinterest in the UK? Is there a "thought leader" sort of person there using Pinterest in a way that especially gets the attention of British males?"

My guess is that the answer is less to do with something tied directly to Pinterest (like a "thought leader" that popularized it in the UK) and more to do with cultural differences or pragmatic/behavioral norms between the US and the UK, and the gender difference in the use of Pinterest falls out of that. I guess that even if there were the thought leader (that's a lot of influence to, ahem, pin on one individual), the reason that the British males (perhaps more than the British females) vs. not so much the American males would be swayed by this influence is underlyingly one of cultural difference, and not of access. I personally think such differences between the US and the UK should be celebrated. :)

I realize that this argument is a bit big paintbrushy and somewhat naive.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:21 AM on March 10, 2012


Now, all academic feminists need to do to get their point across to ordinary people is to stop using words like "othering" and "promblematize". I mean, holy fuck, listen to yourself. Shit like that just makes more republicans. I'm pretty sure I could make all the same points without crawling up my own ass, jargon-wise.

It's funny how you think you can do what they do better, just because. Maybe when you spend a few decades competently writing about race or class for an audience that also does so, you can judge whether or not they were justified in using those terms. Because - and I'm just going to take a wild guess here - there was probably a good reason for inventing those terms, like that there was no other word for conveniently expressing these ideas that were off the radar before them.

I'm sure there are tons of Republicans who are saying, "I sure do love feminism, but I just can't handle the jargon! It drives me crazy! I guess I'll just fight against equal right for women now..."

posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:12 AM on March 10, 2012 [59 favorites]


Now, all academic feminists need to do to get their point across to ordinary people is to stop using words like "othering" and "promblematize". I mean, holy fuck, listen to yourself. Shit like that just makes more republicans. I'm pretty sure I could make all the same points without crawling up my own ass, jargon-wise.

???
She puts othering in quotations, then in italics, then she defines it!!! Clearly, some "ordinary" people are just way too hostile when faced with this issue.

You have a point, but you're also choosing to be very stubborn here.
posted by timmm at 2:12 AM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was under the impression that 'othering' and 'problematise' came from postmodernism/critical theory...?
posted by Dysk at 2:28 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Or well, I suppose 'othering' really just relates to the philosophical 'Other', which has a long and rich history of use in many contexts)
posted by Dysk at 2:31 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So does the phrase patriarchy involve othering?
posted by joost de vries at 2:37 AM on March 10, 2012


So its okay to use Mlkshk then?
posted by infini at 2:43 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mlkshk slants heavily metafilter.
posted by joost de vries at 2:46 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that differential or just dominating?
posted by infini at 2:55 AM on March 10, 2012


Depends on whether metafilter is us or them.
posted by joost de vries at 3:00 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding the complaint against using words like "othering" and "promblematize": The author of the article says, "I teach sociology; usually theoretical and centered on identity," and specifically mentions that he is looking for more ideas regarding using Pinterest/social media sites in his course: "Last, I hope others can help me with this lesson plan and provide more links/examples and other feminist perspectives I have not yet mentioned."

He is also posting on a site that describes itself as an "online, multidisciplinary social science project headquartered in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota."

So, academics using academic language in an academic venue? Seems pretty reasonable to me.
posted by taz at 3:55 AM on March 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


twooster: Wikipedia is argued to be relatively neutral because that's a standard to which it holds itself.

Agreed.
posted by memebake at 4:06 AM on March 10, 2012


It is possible to express your disapproval (problematising, othering) of women spending time on a website on behaviour you're not very proud of (shopping) and the argument whether it's womens own fault (differential) or mens fault (dominating) in a more clear way.
That is: without the quasi scientific obfuscatory doctors latin of these ugly examples of academese.
posted by joost de vries at 4:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


But he's using these words to talk about academic matters in an academic venue. It's an academic site.

People use the words that are most useful to their professions when discussing with other professionals or people who are knowledgeable about their field. Programmers will use programming terms, for example, even though a lot of people won't understand what they mean. That's not obfuscatory when you're discussing something on a tech site.
posted by taz at 4:31 AM on March 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


Wikipedia is argued to be relatively neutral because that's a standard to which it holds itself.

I don't think the term 'neutral' in this article means Wikipedia's editorial standards. It means the perception of whether Wikipedia is a girl thing or a boy thing. Pinterest is seen as a girl thing because it mostly attracts girls. Wikipedia on the other hand is seen as neither, even though it's run by men.

The flaw in the argument is that Wikipedia may be run/edited by men, but its readership is more evenly divided. Therefore Wikipedia is not (perceived as) a boy thing.

And also raises another question - why is a social site such as Pinterest skewed female (in the US) but an editorial site such as Wikipedia skewed male?

Pinterest isn't unusual in this respect - social networking as a whole is skewed female.

Publishing as whole (to which Wikipedia really belongs, rather than social networking) is skewed male, as a previous mefi post illustrated (sorry can't find it but you might remember it).

To contribute to Wikipedia you have to: 1. Be a member of the Wikipedia contributors club at some level 2. Have the time and self confidence to be a contributor/editor. When you take these two things into account I think it's not that surprising that Wikipedia is skewed male, like much of publishing.

Of course this highlights a different problem - the fact the world is run/created by men for consumption by both genders - something I guess you'd call 'dominance'.
posted by Summer at 4:52 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no position or other knowledge on this; I just happened to see the article featured in a LinkedIn mailing, so have no idea how actually scary this is, if at all, in real life terms.


Pretty standard website boilerplate.
posted by empath at 5:01 AM on March 10, 2012


I actually really liked the article, about from the one bit about Wikipedia which is the bit highlighted at the top of this fpp.
posted by memebake at 5:05 AM on March 10, 2012


Problematising and othering don't just mean 'express disapproval'. I appreciate sometimes academics can go over the top with their language, but seriously, these words are easy to understand and serve a useful purpose. What's with the hostility?
posted by knapah at 5:15 AM on March 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Thanks for posting this; this article has raised some troubling but interesting introspective issues. Unfortunately the nearest female perspective did not appreciate being awakened at 7 am on a Saturday to talk about it, so I am on my own, here. I was originally just going to express distaste for the version of Pinterest described in the article, but came away wondering what kind of blinders I might be unknowingly wearing. Please hope me!

Is one allowed to find the existence of Wikipedia enriching, and the existence of Pinterest (as described in the linked article) alienating without being accused of misogyny?

On the basis of my experience with Wikipedia (which consists of having read thousands of articles and edited a few) versus my experience with Pinterest (which consists of having read the linked article), one sounds like yet another way of perpetuating a dreary consumerist monoculture, and the other sounds like something different.

Also, obviously I have no sense beyond the article's description of what Pinterest is about, but it sounds like the Etsy comparison made above is unwarranted, since Etsy* is about the actual creative pursuits of the users instead of the recycling of others' creative pursuits to increase some third party's profits that seems, from the article's description, to characterize Pinterest.

What are the implications of the distinction between making things and deciding which things, made by someone else, that one likes?

Is there an argument for assigning higher status to the former, active activity than to the latter, passive one that is not predicated on dubious gender stereotypes, or am I just looking for an excuse to be irritated by recreational retail without being accused of misogyny?

It seems to me that recreational retail is as much a male pursuit as a female one, despite stereotypes (although I do not have data about this). Given these stereotypes, however, is it possible to criticize the practice of recreational retail on grounds that are independent of gender? If so, do any of those criticisms outweigh the gender-stereotype angle?

More generally, is it totally out of line for a person to find certain behaviours that are stereotypically gendered distasteful for reasons that have nothing to do with their gender associations? Is it okay to be irritated by recreational retail environments and people who find them fun, as well as: interpersonal aggression, excessive concern for one's appearance, sports idolatry, gossip, excessive emotional self-control, excessive emotional displays, and many other stereotypically "male" or "female" behaviours? Must one address the gender stereotypes when expressing that irritation, even though the irritation has to do only with the behaviours themselves?



*At which I do not have an account, but which I do think is awesome.
posted by kengraham at 5:23 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Male dominated consumerism centers very much around consumer electronics. This is a site that I see as a Dutch example.
posted by joost de vries at 5:26 AM on March 10, 2012


I just looked at the front page of pinterest and found this, might make some guys uncomfortable. Not that there aren't sexualized images of women all over the place, but it's precisely because you don't see overtly sexualized images of dudes all over the place that it's so surprising. Ironically, though it was posted by a guy.

Regarding wikipedia – Someone mentioned, I think it was maybe in one of the articles how stuff teen boys like (like baseball cards) will have enormous amounts of information, while Friendship bracelets just has a quick overview. But it seems gathering detailed, nerdy information is something that's encouraged in boy's play, but to a less extent in girl's play? I mean, each friendship bracelet doesn't have the same type of detailed information about it that baseball cards do.

On the other hand Disney Princesses are something that have a lot of associated information, and are something that girls would feel nostalgic about. Still, it does seem like there's less information there then you might expect, compare that to the article on GI Joe. It did contain this somewhat nerdy caviat:
· Kiara, the daughter of Simba in The Lion King 2 is technically a princess, although Disney does not consider her one for the reason that she is a Lion.
Of course, each article links to other articles on each of the subtopics, so it's hard to know how much detail is included in each one. Plus, for any fictional world there will also probably be a wikia wiki about it as well.

---
Anyway, as an aside that will probably be of interest (and concern?) to those using the site, I'll point out this Business Insider article about possibly alarming TOS items regarding Pinterest users and copyright issue:
"Pinterest's members are solely responsible for what they pin and repin. They must have explicit permission from the owner to post everything."

...

"Basically, if a photographer sues you for pinning an image illegally on Pinterest, the user must not only pay for his or her lawyer, they must also pay for Pinterest's lawyer. In addition, the defendant must pay all charges against him or herself, along with all of Pinterest's charges."
I have no position or other knowledge on this; I just happened to see the article featured in a LinkedIn mailing, so have no idea how actually scary this is, if at all, in real life terms.
I've seen this crop up all over the place, but I do not understand how it's any different from any other website in the world. If I post an image on Flickr or imgur or anywhere else that I don't own the copyright too, I'm legally responsible for it. If I post a link to an image here, matt's not liable for it.

The odds of getting sued over posting an image to pinterest seems extremely remote.
posted by delmoi at 5:27 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe Apple can help.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:28 AM on March 10, 2012


Wikipedia is argued to be relatively neutral because that's a standard to which it holds itself.

Or, alternately, Wikipedia has looked at the place it has found itself after some years of development, and declared that "relatively neutral."
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:34 AM on March 10, 2012


I like this article, but the comparison between Pinterest and Wikipedia seems sort of apple and orange to me. Wikipedia attempts to be an encyclopedia, Pinterest (as far as I know?) is social media.

The reason there is a disparity in how (the users of?) the sites are judged is because Wikipedia attempts to publish objective facts and truths, where Pinterest shares users' subjective interests. I don't think this makes one objectively better than the other, when judged in the correct context. But the context is the point: Wikipedia is terrible social media, and Pinterest is a terrible encyclopedia.

More generally, is it totally out of line for a person to find certain behaviours that are stereotypically gendered distasteful for reasons that have nothing to do with their gender associations? Is it okay to be irritated by recreational retail environments and people who find them fun, as well as: interpersonal aggression, excessive concern for one's appearance, sports idolatry, gossip, excessive emotional self-control, excessive emotional displays, and many other stereotypically "male" or "female" behaviours? Must one address the gender stereotypes when expressing that irritation, even though the irritation has to do only with the behaviours themselves?

Two reasons: some people can't tell the difference between judging the thing/place/action and judging the people involved, and some people can't express their opinions of things/places/actions clearly enough to make that distinction obvious.
posted by gjc at 5:38 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Articles like this one are exactly where the academic jargon comes in handy.

If you're talking specifically about what some writer or other said or did, then accusing them of "othering" isn't very informative, when you could be talking specifically about the malign intent and consequences of what they said or did.

But if you're talking about several writers, and trying to express what they have in common, then it makes sense to set aside their particular intents or lack thereof, and generalize the consequences of what they did: they othered people. Pinterest users specifically, and women in general.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:44 AM on March 10, 2012


So, academics using academic language in an academic venue? Seems pretty reasonable to me.

All this is a derail, and we should probably move it to MeTa, but, honestly, after spending a couple of decades off and on in academia, The vast majority of academics seem to be poor writers who rely on jargon at least partly because they are incapable of expressing themselves more succinctly or are trying to stretch a thin point to justify a publication. This is complicated because, sometimes, jargon is useful. "Othering" is a great example -- it is specifically linked to this idea of "the Other," and it is very hard to write a sentence using this concept in a succinct way without using something like "othering." "Problematize" is weaker, at least to me, because it seems to really mean "think critically about" and could probably be scrubbed from the language with little pain (people who work with this concept more completely may wish to correct me).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:45 AM on March 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Threeway Handshake: "Why not just talk about the fact the site is 100% based on copyright infringement?"

I have heard this argument before, and I completely do not understand it. The entire point of Pinterest is that it links to the source content. People repin pictures of lasagna/french braids/manicures precisely because they want to keep track of the link so they can someday click and and find out how to make or do what's in the picture.

Is it copyright infringement because it's pictures instead of words? Because rehosting images with credit and a link is pretty kosher on the rest of the internet, isn't it? There are plenty of sites where images get popular but credit is lost, like tumblr or facebook, but Pinterest always maintains the original link, no matter how many times it's repinned. That's why I like it.

If we could organize MetaFilter favorites the way some people want, then the two sites would be functionally very similar to me. Somebody says, look, this is cool, I'll post it! I find it and choose whether to click, discuss, and/or favorite/repin for later. Obviously you find different content on the two sites, the discussion's miles better here and there are pictures instead of FPPs there, but it's all about people saying "I found this cool thing! Click it!"
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:58 AM on March 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd like to see a similar comparison of male dominated HBO original programming versus Lifetime movies.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:58 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


What are the implications of the distinction between making things and deciding which things, made by someone else, that one likes?

I think this is a really interesting question. Pinterest reminds me a lot of Polyvore; in both cases there's an intense community created around the activity of fantasy consumption, with a hefty dose of actual consumption mixed in.

I only interact with Etsy remotely, by enjoying sad etsy boyfriends and dogs, but I could easily imagine starting to sell things there. But I couldn't imagine ever using a site like Pinterest or Polyvore -- there is something fundamentally different about both how I do my fantasy consumption and how I use social media, and that would hold true for most men I know, I think.
posted by Forktine at 5:59 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is my largely anecdotal understanding that there is a significant correlation between women Pinterest users and adult female Twilight fans (in the U.S., at least). That tells me all I need to know assume about Pinterest.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:30 AM on March 10, 2012


Regarding wikipedia – Someone mentioned, I think it was maybe in one of the articles how stuff teen boys like (like baseball cards) will have enormous amounts of information, while Friendship bracelets just has a quick overview. But it seems gathering detailed, nerdy information is something that's encouraged in boy's play, but to a less extent in girl's play? I mean, each friendship bracelet doesn't have the same type of detailed information about it that baseball cards do.

Let's talk about a real obsession (heavily encouragd) of teen girls and women: fashion.

How many types of high heels are there? Boots? Skirts? Fabrics? What time of year is best to wear each? And with what kind of pants or skirts?

Have you ever read a description of a wedding dress? Do you know the difference between a leg-o-mutton sleeve and a capped princess sleeve? What is a bustier, a handkerchief hem, a fingertip veil?

How do you figure out a bra size? Or a child's shoe size? Or what a blouse that originally cost 59.65, put on sale at 42.50, now 40% off actually costs? What color shoes do you wear with a navy skirt? What is the difference between tights, pantyhose, and leggings? What is puce? Is magenta the same as hot pink?

I could go on for days. But being traditionally female requires quite a lot of information mastery, believe me.
posted by emjaybee at 6:33 AM on March 10, 2012 [30 favorites]


and the gender ratio for OED? who knows?Who cares? I read an encyclopedia for what it offers and I need and do not worry about how many Blacks, women etc contributed...Wiki does no impose restrictions for entries based up gender but rather those who offer to work on it get to work on it....this gender balance is just plain silly.
posted by Postroad at 6:34 AM on March 10, 2012


So, academics using academic language in an academic venue? Seems pretty reasonable to me.

My wife, an academic, would amputaterize the headzone of any studenista or collegializer who expressionated at her in this wayform. Unless they were German in which case it is just a cultural thing to use words like legos to build towering edifices of thought embedded in the longest sentences known to humankind.
posted by srboisvert at 6:36 AM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Anyway, as an aside that will probably be of interest (and concern?) to those using the site, I'll point out this Business Insider article about possibly alarming TOS items regarding Pinterest users and copyright issue...

Interesting. Also the follow-up, where the Pinterest co-founder calls the photog/lawyer and admits they're still working on figuring out how exactly this copyright thing is supposed to work. Um... Anyway, here's her initial blog post and her report on the phone call. Thanks, taz. And thanks, latkes for the thoughtful link.

"Othering" is a perfectly useful and understandable word. Jeez, people.
posted by mediareport at 6:45 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh jesus Metafilter. You hate jargon now? You mean the thing that the internet is steeped in? You know how often I have to explain to my internet-knowledge-poor friends and family some random term off the internet? Brony, redditor, blogger (more well-known, still jargon!), mefite (ffs), the myriad social media websites that we use as unexplained nouns and verbs now. If there's one place on earth where jargon should not be criticized, it is at a place that celebrates the wonder of the most jargon-laden place on Earth.

And that's completely ignoring the fact that problematize and other (tr. v.) are both wildly understandable. Hell, problematize is in the dictionary! First appearance 100 years ago! Deal with it!
posted by TypographicalError at 6:51 AM on March 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


Perhaps mildly off-topic, but I'm curious what a "female" Wikipedia would look like? As a site with a stated goal of neutral-POV, how would this differ the present content?

Well, to state this in the most deliberately inflammatory yet succinct manner possible, I think the idea is that the "maleness" of Wikipedia is expressed through the "neckbeardy rules-lawyering" of the editors and contributors behind the scenes on the talk pages, not in the content itself, viz. the complaints being registered in that recent "historian tries to add truth to article, is soundly rejected for improper citation" thread a couple days ago.

As far as that thread goes, the complaining historian, in making his case, seems to have glossed over a lot of the technical details of how stuff went down when he got into his argument with the editors on Wikipedia, so much so as to make the article which launched the thread disingenuous.

However, Wikipedia though many years of attack and refinement and evolution, does seem to have built up an editorial culture which in which precision, technical understanding of the system, and in-house cred are greatly valued, to the extent that outsiders are often rebuffed when attempting to engage with it and it seems like a lot of the editors there regard that as a feature, not a bug. (Which is sort of an unexpected place for the thing that started out at the encyclopedia anyone could edit to end up at.) As far as this thread goes, one may, I think, make a fair argument that those values --- precision, depth of technical understanding, in-group feat-based cred --- are more associated with men than women. I don't know if you'd win but I think you could make a case.
posted by Diablevert at 6:55 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hoopo, check your mefi mail.
posted by jadepearl at 7:09 AM on March 10, 2012


Oh jesus Metafilter. You hate jargon now? You mean the thing that the internet is steeped in? You know how often I have to explain to my internet-knowledge-poor friends and family some random term off the internet? Brony, redditor, blogger (more well-known, still jargon!), mefite (ffs), the myriad social media websites that we use as unexplained nouns and verbs now. If there's one place on earth where jargon should not be criticized, it is at a place that celebrates the wonder of the most jargon-laden place on Earth.

Depends on the audience. This article is a little funky because

a) it's actually an in-house discourse --- a post by a sociology professor, aimed at other people with a interest in teaching sociology, alerting them to some resources they could maybe use toward that end. In that context, jargon is expected

b) a lot of people reading and commenting in this thread don't seem to have quite groked that, in part because metafilter is a repository for stuff from all over the web and posting here is an implicit endorsement that the content is of general interest

c) feminism and technology and the conjunction of the twain are definitely of general interest here

d) and so therefore encountering in-house jargon which you don't understand is confusing

e) further, there's a separate argument to be had about whether the points the author is making (or which academic feminists are making in general) would be better communicated to a general interest audience through the avoidance of jargon, especially if you agree that society in general would be better off thinking more and talking more about some of the issues they examine
posted by Diablevert at 7:14 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


@wcfields

man i realize you get faves for that kind of thing and thats fun but the hurrh neckbaerd manchild basement cheetoes stuff is kind of threadbare at this point??

not that living at home isnt a fuckin straight up class signifier or anything, not at all
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:36 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone have a theory why more men than women use Pinterest in the UK? Is there a "thought leader" sort of person there using Pinterest in a way that especially gets the attention of British males?

My own theory (not corroborated by any solid studies I know of) is that Pinterest grew an organic audience in the US of users who actually enjoyed the service. After it became large enough, social media / new media / SEO marketers in the US started to blog things like 'How to Promote Your Site on Pinterest'.

SEO and digital marketing generally tend to be pretty male-dominated, and there's a large amount of communication between the US and UK groups. Add to that the insane level of fad-jumping in the industry, and what ended up happening was that UK marketers heard that Pinterest was The Next Big Thing, and got all over it.

Yet the service still hasn't gained a user base similar to the US (largely female, largely sharing fashion, crafting, cooking, inspirational, or otherwise aesthetically-pleasing images for their own sake). Instead, the UK audience has a lot more people trying to exploit an anticipated (and at this point phantom) userbase.

It's similar to what has happened with Google+: there's so much incentive to be ahead of the curve in social media marketing that more time is spent being there to convince others that it's a place to be than actually thinking about what real humans (ie, not social media-types) are doing online.

TL;DR: the UK has more men on Pinterest because a Lot of the UK users are SEOs and social media experts who are trying to exploit the service before it has had the chance to grow a legit audience.

Sorry if this is a massive derail
posted by graphnerd at 7:42 AM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, each friendship bracelet doesn't have the same type of detailed information about it that baseball cards do.

Are you serious? You do realize that creating friendship bracelets involves memorizing and mastering knot patterns--which isn't so different from what Boy Scouts do, or whatever.

Also girls' toys are no less encyclopedic than boys'. For example, the American Girl books that I grew up with included detailed family trees for each character, as well as historical indices. They're less esteemed, I suppose, because they're less "real" or whatever, but the information is there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:49 AM on March 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think, make a fair argument that those values --- precision, depth of technical understanding, in-group feat-based cred --- are more associated with men than women. I don't know if you'd win but I think you could make a case.

This is a good example of what I am asking about. I tend to believe that the putatively male-associated attributes of precision and depth of technical understanding are more or less unambiguously better than imprecision and shallowness of technical understanding, when discussing a very wide range of issues. Similarly, possessing some stereotypically female attributes -- empathy, say -- is simply better than not possessing those attributes, in most situations.

Is the fact that certain attributes that are useful and admirable, regardless of one's gender, are associated with a particular gender kind of symptomatic of some sort of cultural disease? If so, how is this disease related to the consumer monoculture that may or may not manifest itself in Pinterest? Is this a sexist question? Is the very existence of socially constructed gender differences sexist, or is suggesting that we should all strive to be both empathetic and precise, regardless of gender, sexist?
posted by kengraham at 7:57 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh dear, can I hand over that first class in engineering to the nearest male then?
posted by infini at 8:00 AM on March 10, 2012


Innnteresting stuff. My employer's social media manager just added Pinterest to our social media suite, and when she announced the news that the demographic skews 19-34 year old Midwestern female, the entire meeting smirked and one person made the "wah-wah"-you-lost-the-game-show noise. I didn't like it - it was like saying "we're not really for everyone, and these people are beneath our effort." Since I'm supposed to be an access champion, I had to object.

The first time I encountered Pinterest, I had a huge "Meh" reaction too. As soon as I moved to a new house, though, I came back to it, reminded by a friend of mine that it's a good way to archive your ideas for decorating visually, rather than on a list or something. THe more time I've been on it, the more interested I am in it.

I would compare it to Twitter. People who don't use it, or were late adopters, spent a lot of time going "I don't get it," and looking at it as an outsider or even maintaining an account they didn't do much with, and not "getting it." Like Twitter, the user experience for Pinterest is entirely dependent on the community you build and on what purposes you set for its use. If you look at Pinterest as an outsider, it looks fairly stupid, I agree. That's because you've done nothing to begin setting the parameters to meet your own interests. Now I see people using it to archive recipes for foods and cocktails, bookmark DIY projects, plan events and vacations. I'm using it now to archive some of my research on the campmeeting movement of the early 1800s, which is associated with a lot of images scattered across the web. Visual bookmarks make a hell of a lot of sense when you're bookmarking images.

Pinterest privileges visual culture, and so it's of particular interest to people in the design community, artists and DIY folks, and anyone who uses visual data. I wonder if that's one reason it's more popular in the UK, where I believe design sense is much more enculturated. In an era in which visual culture is increasingly significant, a visual bookmarker and archive - which is really what Pinterest is - makes clear sense.

"Problematize" is weaker, at least to me, because it seems to really mean "think critically about" and could probably be scrubbed from the language with little pain (people who work with this concept more completely may wish to correct me).

"Problematize" used to bother me too, but I've gotten past it. It's true that it means "Think critically about," but the way it's used in the discourse, it actually sends a specific message: we need more research on this. What I mean is that academics generally aim to think critically about everything, but to "problematize" something is to recomment not just that we think critically about it, but that we make it into a research problem. And it's a clumsy word, but when you listen to a daylong series of 30 papers, I'm appreciative that someone can capture the idea "Rather than taking this topic for granted, in future scholarship we should render it as a research problem and undertake research specifically focused on this" with the single word "problematize." It's a signal word in a way that "think critically about" isn't - it means it's a flag, your cue to jot down "problematize internet gender divisions" or whatever. It indicates there's an emerging research idea here.
posted by Miko at 8:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


Oh, also - because of the customizability, it's just as possible to use Pinterest in a counter-hegemonic, anti-retail/consumerism way as it is the other way, as with any social media. Facebook exists to sell stuff, but also gives a platform to Occupy. YouTube may not seem like a retail sales platform, but if you're a fashionista, you can go on there and watch videos of people modeling clothes and handbags, walking in the shoes you want to buy, demonstrating makeup application and the like -- oh, and also, showing off computer features, demonstrating sports equipment, and showing the performance of car brands.
posted by Miko at 8:09 AM on March 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, apparently Pinterest has the girl cooties so bad it simply cannot be redeemed for men to get interested in using it; they've had to go and invent manly clones of Pinterest to get in on that sweet advertising revenue action. *eyeroll*

Pinterest is all pink, puppies, and pretty ponies

A Pinterest for men: MANteresting.com

Co-Founder Of Manteresting, Pinterest For Men, On What It Means To Be A Clone

Gentlemint Is Pinterest For Manly Things
posted by flex at 8:10 AM on March 10, 2012


First of all, the blog that this was posted on, and the author of the blog, are both part of the annual Theorizing the Web conference that's coming up at my school, the University of Maryland. I would highly recommend attending if you're in the area.

Secondly, it's a great article. For people who don't really get Pinterest, it has a lot of the same appeal as Tumblr (a mostly visual based site which allows you browse great swaths of curated content at once) but without the cliqueish nature of Tumblr. Tumblr presupposed a good amount of technical knowledge: setting up a theme, finding items to post about and then crafting the posts through the HTML or WYSIWYG editor, networking in a way to get other anonymous strangers to reblog your stuff. Pinterest, on the other hand, is ready to go out of the box, has an automated interface for creating posts which involves either uploading content or pasting a URL in to a text field, and works within your pre-existing social graph to create a network of people to follow who you actually know and care about. Pinterest is a practical version of Tumblr, and as such, I think it leads to less scattershot weird stuff, and more everyday concerns, like recipes, fashion, technology, inspirational quotes, etc. Another difference is that Tumblr seems much more performative, with each Tumblr seeming to be an outsized character that the blogger is presenting. You still see this on the big name Pinterest accounts, but less so in the average user.

It would be interested to see the reported gender statistics of Tumblr users and compare them against Pinterest. I have a feeling that it may still skew male, but that the numbers would be closer to parity. The comparison that the article makes to Wikipedia is useful, but I would like to see a comparison to Tumblr, since it's much more similar to Pinterest.

I have to admit that, at first, I fell in to the same trap that the author mentions at the start of the article. I took a cursory glance at the Pinterest front page, and my inner ten year old boy said 'this is for girls, yuck!' But since then I've sort of come around on it. I made a throw-away Twitter account, and I've been using it to post stuff for my own personal use, and I've found that it works much better than my previous system of '30 different folders over 3 different computers with uncategorized images and links'. Pinterest is imminently useful in a way that my various abandoned Tumblrs never were, at least in part because I'm pinning stuff in a less self-concious way. I don't care about how many followers I have, since (unlike Tumblr) I have less of a personal stake in it, since I didn't set up my account, or personalize my theme. I can pin stuff that I'm interested in and have it be just for my use, instead of some grand statement of taste or identity.

Anyway, thanks for the link. And I'd recommend that people check out the other stuff on the blog, it's usually a good read in my experience.
posted by codacorolla at 8:10 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Care based ethics is deserving of celebration because it enlightens the human condition and provides contrast to the masculine/normalized "let the ends justify the means" harm of unquestioned utilitarian ethics.

Lifestyle consumerism, on the other hand, is 100% social construction and we've discovered that it is strongly connected to all kinds of environmental and externalized economic harm. I could see the argument that crowdsourced marketing is a lesser evil, since consumers are less likely to use sexism and othering and emotional manipulation to market to themselves. But give the marketeers some time, they'll find a way to inject their most potently exploitive ideas into crowdsourced marketing -- if only by hiring sockpuppet accounts to say they found 69 ways that Acme Brand Red Velvet Cupcakes will help you please your man in bed.
posted by Skwirl at 8:12 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone mentioned, I think it was maybe in one of the articles how stuff teen boys like (like baseball cards) will have enormous amounts of information, while Friendship bracelets just has a quick overview. But it seems gathering detailed, nerdy information is something that's encouraged in boy's play, but to a less extent in girl's play? I mean, each friendship bracelet doesn't have the same type of detailed information about it that baseball cards do.

Are you making the obvious point that a friendship bracelet doesn't contain statistics while a baseball card does? Because I agree: there is more information in a baseball card than a friendship bracelet. (There is some: there's colour choice, and pattern choice, and knot choice, and there's the skill needed to make a nice one. But that is, in a sense, information about the bracelet, though it's also contained in a bracelet.)

However, to make a (nice) friendship bracelet requires a lot of skill, a lot of time and effort and energy, a lot of practice, a lot of knowledge. To get a baseball card requires money. Sure, there is not the same systematic sharing of knowledge in friendship bracelets, but there is plenty of sharing of knowledge required.
posted by jeather at 8:12 AM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


hiring sockpuppet accounts to say they found 69 ways that Acme Brand Red Velvet Cupcakes will help you please your man in bed

I should say that, as a person that studies marketing for a living, sockpuppeting is a marginal activity at best.

A lot of the smart people in the field (no, not the social media douchebags on Twitter) are also coming around to the idea of a more "humble" form of marketing, less top-down, more user-generated and context-specific. That's a big reason why they like Pinterest so much.

I think it's a fad for decidedly non-gendered reasons, but then again I'm skeptical about basically everything new.
posted by downing street memo at 8:21 AM on March 10, 2012


there is not the same systematic sharing of knowledge in friendship bracelets

I think it's a mistake not to look at something like this in context. I learned to make friendship bracelets, and it was social learning. Friends who had the skill taught friends. Once you knew how to make the basic product, you would look around and find friends with different patterns than the ones you knew. Asking "Who made your bracelet?" you would hope to source the information about who knew how to create this new pattern. If you could get them to teach you - or perhaps reverse-engineer it yourself experimentally - you added that pattern to your repertoire. Making and trading this gift was a way of mapping your social space.

Bracelets are thus a complex part of a manufacturing and gift economy. BUt I wouldn't compare this to baseball cards. The only similarity there is that both are traded and shared and compiled into collections. But if you want to look for girls' interests that are associated with intense bodies of information, you have to look again to pop culture - celebrity-based information (celebrities like baseball stars). Girls can master a tremendous amount of personal detail on people. Whether it's statistical or not might be of interest, but I would say that the only boys I knew who actually traded baseball cards (does that even happen any more) were really unconcerned with the stats other than maybe batting average. They were concerned with fame and perceived value. Stats were really not the point, that's an adult way of conceiving the game. I think the comparison is spurious.
posted by Miko at 8:23 AM on March 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is the fact that certain attributes that are useful and admirable, regardless of one's gender, are associated with a particular gender kind of symptomatic of some sort of cultural disease?

Well, I think here were enter the realm of pure opinion. (Considering that we started with sociology, it took a surprisingly long time.) For myself, I think everything tends to have the defects of its virtues, if you know what I mean. There are a lot of traits which can't exist with their opposite; can you be both deliberate and measured and spontaneous and reactive? Different environments bring out different aspects of people's personalities, of course, but in general I'd say no. The kinds of people who are excellent at sales do not tend to be the kinds of people who are excellent at accounts. Precision's useful sometimes, so is holistic, pic-picture understanding of a phenomenon. The first may be more useful to the engineer building the bridge, the second to the politician trying to get it funded. And I think it's perfectly possible that due to hormones and natural selection and so forth there may be forces shaping our the development of our minds which make it more likely for a dude to exhibit X trait and for a women to exhibit Y trait. What may be impossible is determining what's nature and what's culture --- e.g., I tend to think that if you could wave a wand and make sure that no person felt societal pressure to shape their career in line with gender norms, a certain field might still consistently attract more men than women. But in our world I don't think there's every going to be any way to do that.

If so, how is this disease related to the consumer monoculture that may or may not manifest itself in Pinterest?

Meh, personally I think this is a bit overblown. The consumer monoculture does just as much to push dudes to shop, it's just not for clothes and home decor. It's for toys and tools --- consumer electronics, gadgetry, cars and car stuff, power tools, etc. If pinterest really wanted to sell itself to dude it should try and hook the hobbyists --- if you got a bunch of gearheads posting JPEGs of spoilers and speaker specs it will would still work the same way and serve the same function but it would even out their gender ratios like woah.

Is this a sexist question? Is the very existence of socially constructed gender differences sexist, or is suggesting that we should all strive to be both empathetic and precise, regardless of gender, sexist?

I dunno, does society need both salespeople and accountants? No one can be all things to all people; I think as far as social justice goes the best we can do it try to cultivate and understanding and acceptance of non-typical example, for whatever the case may be --- to value people who can do the gig, and not presume that because it's mostly X who are attracted to a job, a Y can't be a good one.
posted by Diablevert at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2012


Is the fact that certain attributes that are useful and admirable, regardless of one's gender, are associated with a particular gender kind of symptomatic of some sort of cultural disease?

If you look at some of the links and stuff in the article, this view is presented as "Dominance feminism" and there are some links to researchers who espouse this theory.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on March 10, 2012


celebrities like baseball stars

That wasn't all that clear - what I mean is that where girls master information on singers, actors, or other pop culture celebrities, it's not functionally different from boys mastering information on sports heroes or actors which they find appealing as models.
posted by Miko at 8:33 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


A co-worker of mine's wife just took a job at Wikipedia. Her hiring manager advised her to sign up with a username that does not imply her gender, as apparently that has caused trouble for others working there in the past.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:35 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Very interesting article. Miko described my initial reaction to Pinterest, with the stiletto heels, borderline pro-ana "motivational" photos of women with six-pack abs, and craft projects. But that's just the exterior. I don't follow people who post that stuff, so I don't see it on my feed. My own boards are made up of stuff I like for whatever reason and categorized in a way that makes sense to me. I like the hodgepodge aspect of it. I'm not there for shopping, but I can't say I'd never buy something I saw on Pinterest.

One interesting thing about Pinterest is the "if you don't have something nice to say, don't comment" ethos. Negative comments on pins are really frowned upon, and I don't see much that is overtly political.
posted by ambrosia at 8:51 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's also possible to use Pinterest somewhat antisocially. I'm hooked up to some of my facebook/twitter friends (including a high school classmate whose food board I raid for recipes all the time) but other than seeing what my friends post and liking/repinning, I don't really use the social aspects of Pinterest at all. I'm actually a little unnerved when I post something that gets a lot of likes/repins or comments.

I've seen some articles about how to market to men on Pinterest and it's pretty much what Diablevert said: put "guy-oriented" consumer stuff on there and the men will come.
posted by immlass at 8:51 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's possible to overthink this.

There might well be high-powered women lawyers or business execs who dress in Lilly Pulitzer pink and green on weekends (if they have weekends) or on vacation. Who else can afford all the femme-y stuff with the notional consumer identity of wealthy preppy SAHMs?

Other women with typically "male" jobs that don't pay as well and who can't afford the real things might look at Lilly P stuff on Pinterest in their free time.

Whoever works with a lot of text in their job might not want to read more in their free time.

I'm tired of girly marketing, though.
posted by bad grammar at 8:56 AM on March 10, 2012


I also hate academics for coming up with made-up shit like "discourse", which, after all, means running back and forth. Let's leave "discourse" to kittens chasing lasers where it belongs.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:20 AM on March 10, 2012


Late to the game, but isn't Reddit a much better point of comparison than Wikipedia here?
posted by graphnerd at 9:35 AM on March 10, 2012


Threeway Handshake: "Why not just talk about the fact the site is 100% based on copyright infringement?"

I have heard this argument before, and I completely do not understand it. The entire point of Pinterest is that it links to the source content. People repin pictures of lasagna/french braids/manicures precisely because they want to keep track of the link so they can someday click and and find out how to make or do what's in the picture.
-- that's how you get ants
More to the point, the internet was basically built on copyright infringement. Google's index was basically a huge infringement of copyright. People treat images like text. Take it, paste it, remix it, hardly anyone cares. Videos and music from the major content providers gets treated differently, but there are so many images on the internet, and there are not really any major "content providers" for images that make money by selling copies of their photos directly to customers.

In the case of pop songs or videos, the RIAA/MPAA makes money selling those directly to customers. So they (potentially) lose money if someone pirates something. But few photographers do the same thing, at least not on a wide scale. They tent to make money licensing images, or doing custom shots.

So if you're a photographer, and someone posts your image somewhere and people get back to your site, there's a decent chance someone might want to license it, or else hire you as a photographer if you're in the area. That's actually better then somewhere like reddit, where people tend to just grab an image, and then re-host it on imgur.

On the other hand, the RIAA/MPAA (as well as major TV companies, I guess) do go around trying to enforce their copyrights online. Images, though, have always been a free for all, just like quoting text has been.

On the other hand, the RIAA/MPAA have been on such a fear mongering campaign that it's not surprising that people are worried. Like, the other day my mom wanted to send me an article she read online, but then read the copyright notice at the bottom and somehow worried that she's get in trouble if she pasted it into an email.
Are you making the obvious point that a friendship bracelet doesn't contain statistics while a baseball card does? -- jeather
Yes. Therefore, you would expect there to be less information to put in a wikipedia article about them, compared to the wikipedia article on baseball cards. I tried to think up some more equivalent comparisons, and it does show that there is a gender bias (Disney princesses vs. GI Joe, American Girl vs. X-Men / Gen13)
How many types of high heels are there? Boots? Skirts? Fabrics? What time of year is best to wear each? And with what kind of pants or skirts?

Have you ever read a description of a wedding dress? Do you know the difference between a leg-o-mutton sleeve and a capped princess sleeve? What is a bustier, a handkerchief hem, a fingertip veil?

How do you figure out a bra size? Or a child's shoe size? Or what a blouse that originally cost 59.65, put on sale at 42.50, now 40% off actually costs? What color shoes do you wear with a navy skirt? What is the difference between tights, pantyhose, and leggings? What is puce? Is magenta the same as hot pink?

I could go on for days. But being traditionally female requires quite a lot of information mastery, believe me.
-- emjaybee
I'm not saying they don't, but rather the two examples they chose (friendship bracelets vs. baseball cards) weren't good.
Also girls' toys are no less encyclopedic than boys'. For example, the American Girl books that I grew up with included detailed family trees for each character, as well as historical indices. They're less esteemed, I suppose, because they're less "real" or whatever, but the information is there.
Right, and the Wikipedia article on American Girl dolls is pretty paltry. So that may be a good example of gender bias. In terms of the article depth.
and the gender ratio for OED? who knows?Who cares? I read an encyclopedia for what it offers and I need and do not worry about how many Blacks, women etc contributed...Wiki does no impose restrictions for entries based up gender but rather those who offer to work on it get to work on it....this gender balance is just plain silly. -- Postroad
That's because the OED includes every word. But Wikipedia does not include every topic. And the female centric topics tend to get less coverage then the male centric topics. There should be good wikipedia articles on all the stuff emjaybee mentioned. Are there? The American Girl articles should be as detailed as something equivalent for young boys. What would be equivalent? There is a ton of stuff on the X-Men, even the image comics knockoff Gen13 is much more detailed. There are sub-pages for a bunch of the Gen13 characters, but not for the separate American Girls. The Uncanny X-Men have probably had a greater cultural impact overall, but There's no way Gen13 has been read by more people then the American Girl books.

My wife, an academic, would amputaterize the headzone of any studenista or collegializer who expressionated at her in this wayform. Unless they were German in which case it is just a cultural thing to use words like legos to build towering edifices of thought embedded in the longest sentences known to humankind. -- srboisvert
People definitely do need to avoid over-wording their language. Like, I feel like I can't use the word "utilize" for what it really means, because everyone uses it as a to mean "use"
Well, to state this in the most deliberately inflammatory yet succinct manner possible, I think the idea is that the "maleness" of Wikipedia is expressed through the "neckbeardy rules-lawyering" of the editors and contributors behind the scenes on the talk pages, not in the content itself, viz. the complaints being registered in that recent "historian tries to add truth to article, is soundly rejected for improper citation" thread a couple days ago. -- Diablevert
What we discovered, in that thread is that his article was a lie. He claimed to have cited original sources, but actually he only cited his own blog (which mentioned the original sources)
It's similar to what has happened with Google+: there's so much incentive to be ahead of the curve in social media marketing that more time is spent being there to convince others that it's a place to be than actually thinking about what real humans (ie, not social media-types) are doing online. -- graphnerd
Way too much social media nonsense in what I see on G+. Partly that's probably due to who's in my circles. Those people are annoying as hell. What's interesting to them is what they think will be interesting to other people, who they only capable of imaging caring about the same things they do, and the result is a giant circle-jerk of the most banal, boring nonsense you can think of.
borderline pro-ana "motivational" photos of women with six-pack abs -- ambrosia
sixpack abs as pro-ana now? I don't think you can get them without your protein.
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on March 10, 2012


I honed my Pinterest to only display posts from people I know/am friends with/follow. That being said, I find it handy to "pin" just pictures with very little comment. If I find a recipe for, say, mini-muffin corn dogs, with a cute picture, I'll pin it along with a link to the recipe for others to find. The Death Star wedding cake? Yes! I loved that, so I pinned it. I'm not getting married any time soon so I won't need one but maybe other Star Wars nerds would like to see it. And hey, I've never met a cupcake I didn't like, so what's with the cupcake hate? I pin nerd stuff that I like and that's how I find out that there are other nerds, men and women, who like the same things.
posted by Lynsey at 10:01 AM on March 10, 2012


This is a really interesting article, although it misses some obvious points, and is obviously aimed at other academics (i.e. doesn't follow the breezy, short-form style we expect from internet articles).

A few random notes:

* In the last 6 months or so, Pinterest has become heavily skewed towards Mormon housewives, who apparently fetishize visions of perfect domesticity, be it the perfect wedding shoes, perfect cupcake, or perfect pantry redesign.

Of all places, Gawker has an interesting, nuanced, and thought-provoking article on this phenomena.

* I get that this article is dealing with feminist issues, but surely Pinterest's appalling copyright situation deserves at least a brief nod.

Is not Western history the history of stealing intellectual property and intellectual currency from female artists, thus depriving them of their voice? (From my latest publication, Our Copyright, Our Selves.)

* This article awkwardly grapples with a phenomenon which the Sociological Images blog has succinctly defined as "women are not people."

This defines the situation when a company comes out with two products: one "regular" product (for people) and one "pink" product (for women). Which makes it look like you've got people over here, and women over there.

Even though Wikipedia is 95% male, it's considered a "people" website. But you take a website that's 85% female, it's going to be considered a "women's" website, regardless of the neutrality of the topic.

* Because of that skewing, I personally would be more interested to see this treatment given to a less pink-cupcakes-and-wedding-photographers-focused women-heavy internet phenomenon. Farmville, maybe.
posted by ErikaB at 10:05 AM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


that's how I find out that there are other nerds, men and women, who like the same things.

This, even with "nerds" replaced by "people", paints a very different and wholly more palatable picture than that in the article, so I while I am still puzzled by the questions I asked, I no longer stand by my appraisal of Pinterest as distasteful (which appraisal was based only on the article).
posted by kengraham at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What we discovered, in that thread is that his article was a lie. He claimed to have cited original sources, but actually he only cited his own blog (which mentioned the original sources)

You did read the second paragraph of what I wrote, yeah? The historian was a jerk, and his article was bull. Nevertheless the thread discussing that article had a lot of people bitching about problems they had with the culture of Wikipedia, and I mentioned it here because I think those complaints were more the place where people's issues with the gender skew of the editors crop up.
posted by Diablevert at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2012


Hmm. My husband and I were just thinking about what a Pinterest for men would look like. Then we realized that the male equivalent already exists as Fark, or possibly B3ta.

Maybe we just need more animated gif/boobs/kitten integration for Pinterest to even out the demographics?
posted by Wavelet at 10:09 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making it pink is a such a designer's copout when having to design for women. One* of the best examples of good work in this area that I've seen is this young lady's thesis on home DIY tools.



From my latest publication, Our Copyright, Our Selves I release the derivative work, The Second Set
posted by infini at 10:23 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as I, a lady type, can tell, Pinterest is like all the most boring things you see on facebook (pictures of food, inspirational/humorous sayings and pictures).

That said, the article is pretty interesting. It does seem like we're quicker to identify female-skewed items as inferior to ostensibly neutral ones, much as ErikaB describes. And while Pinterest could be just as much available to men as to women, once something is perceived as feminine it seems like it's very difficult to return it to a point of gender-neutral accessibility.
posted by daisystomper at 10:40 AM on March 10, 2012


* In the last 6 months or so, Pinterest has become heavily skewed towards Mormon housewives, who apparently fetishize visions of perfect domesticity, be it the perfect wedding shoes, perfect cupcake, or perfect pantry redesign.

Of all places, Gawker has an interesting, nuanced, and thought-provoking article on this phenomena.
That reminds me this C.Jane Enjoy it blog, which this "Mormon mommy blog". It was incredibly odd to me, basically a celebration of this woman and her ideal suburban life. What was weird about it was she had all these pictures of stuff around her house. They looked like they were taken from a catalog. But they weren't.

She'd taken the pictures, but they used an expensive DSLR and the pictures they took of their own home looked like pictures you'd see in a catalog. You could tell they weren't actually from catalogs because she was in them, or at least half of them. Smiling, posing with the products just like you'd see in a catalog. Now that I think about it, I wonder if some of that wasn't freebies or paid placement.

At the time, the banner was a picture of her, in running sweats and angel wings and I swear the image looked like it had been taken by Jill Greenburg.

The only deviation from her relentless domesticity and normalness was her philosophical posts about how to be an ideal Mormon wife.
* I get that this article is dealing with feminist issues, but surely Pinterest's appalling copyright situation deserves at least a brief nod.
The only thing unusual about it is that it's getting attention at all. I suppose one thing that's different is that the pinterest agreement makes it explicit that you're responsible (or that you won't hold pinterest responsible).

From the atlantic article:
Pinterest puts the burden on the user, rather than itself, asking Pinners (in giant, scary CAPS) to agree that risk related to the "application of services" -- i.e. stealing -- remains with YOU. Further, it emphasizes that Pinterest is not responsible for all the theft the site encourages.
THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THEN ANY OTHER SITE ON THE INTERNET!

I Guess one difference is that pinterest appeals to people who don't typically go on 'message boards' and maybe aren't familiar with the culture of not caring at all about copyright.

But seriously, when in the history of ever has an ordinary user been sued over the use of an image online? The most I've heard of have been DMCA takedowns. The Atlantic article says it's 'inevitable' but why is it inevitable when it's never happened before in the history of anything?
posted by delmoi at 11:39 AM on March 10, 2012


The author is a male graduate student, FWIW.
posted by k8t at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had thought Pinterest was just another pile of social media crap which had nothing interesting to offer, but after hearing it explained in this thread I went and signed up for an account. Under all the flap about "re-pins" and shopping, it sounds like a really useful way to set up a quick-and-dirty design mood board.

Just this morning I was adding links to a big text file full of motorcycle pictures, where I've been saving design notes for a custom bike I am planning to build. Take that, "it's for girls" complainers, I'm going to stuff pinterest full of bad-ass custom bike photos.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to stuff pinterest full of bad-ass custom bike photos.

When Pinterest finally qualifies to be in the Social Explorer, checking out MeFites' boards is going to be fascinating.
posted by ambrosia at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2012


It does not surprise me that 87% of contributors to Wikipedia are male. But I can hazard a guess why - getting something to stick on a Wikipedia site is a competitive affair. You can't really just log in as an anonymous user and 'improve' Wikipedia - every page worth editing has a bunch of self-appointed 'guardians' that automatically revert edits, etc and are huge dicks that will be like "no, you didn't follow THIS rule" etc rather than being helpful and suggesting possible improvements. If you persist despite the initial discouragement, figure out the rules and competition, and manage through sheer competitive instinct, you get rewarded with the privilege of being able to carve out your own niche in wikipedia.

I would say this persistence is the same underlying thing that differentiates men in competitive sports, video games, and a lot of other male dominated endeavors. Women are easier to discourage than men are - in inclusive environments where people new to something are encouraged, women flourish.

This brings to mind studies I've read where people where people measured how long people were willing to spend solving an 'impossible' puzzle after doing something that requires willpower - people who had to self-deny before solving the puzzle would give up much easier than those who didn't have to self-deny - it's as if willpower is a finite resource, and acts of will sap the ability to use willpower later.

So what I think is really happening is that being female in today's society is still requires an act of will in and of itself - it takes willpower to resist the sexist comments, stereotypes, and bullshit that affect women uniquely in today's society. So after putting up with all that crap, they're much less likely to have the patience to deal with some idiot on wikipedia who constantly reverts edits, or stay up into 3 AM trying to figure out what the fuck is wrong with mshtml, or listen to some jerk in LOL rage about feeding.
posted by Veritron at 2:26 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Another big part of the reason it's competitive and resistant to just anyone wandering in and rewriting it is that Wikipedians spend much of their time resisting (or at least trying to resist) the invasion of spammers, marketers, and PR firms. Whereas with Pinterest and (most?) other sites your participation is for the benefit of the spammers, marketers, and PR firms.
posted by XMLicious at 2:41 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what I think is really happening is that being female in today's society is still requires an act of will in and of itself - it takes willpower to resist the sexist comments, stereotypes, and bullshit that affect women uniquely in today's society.

Bullshit stereotypes like the idea that all women aren't as competitive as men, and that their exclusion from the arenas of sport and game are because of some biological failing rather than institutional biases?
posted by codacorolla at 2:45 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


coda - that's a weirdly uncharitable reading of the comment, especially considering the part you quoted. The comment seems to me to specifically reject a biological failing in favor of a sociological explanation. I don't think it's complete - I think women are actively socialized to avoid confrontation and competition - but I really think your anger is misplaced. And I think Veritron's thought possibly has some merit, although I don't really interact with the wikipedia community in any way.
posted by kavasa at 2:52 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have to say that I have never gotten the impression that women have any tendency to avoid confrontation or competition or that they are "easier to discourage" as Veritron is saying.
posted by XMLicious at 2:57 PM on March 10, 2012


I don't have any studies to back me up, but I certainly have the impression that women (of which I am one) are more likely to go "Fuck it, it's not worth my time" and walk away from the keyboard than men are.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:03 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


But there are lots of things that men tend to say "fuck it, it's not worth my time" over and walk away from too. It seems like you have to be pretty selective in what activities you're looking at to conclude that men are generally persistent and competitive and women aren't.

It occurred to me, thinking about this just now, that I grew up (in the northeastern U.S.) attending a high school that didn't have a football team and the attendant social stuff and sports-industrial-merchandising-hooplah surrounding that. So, many more of the people I knew who played sports were women rather than men, and the trophies in the cases in school hallways had usually been won by girls, and the pennants hung on the walls of the gym were won by girls' lacrosse teams and basketball teams, etc.

Also, out of the academic top ten in my high school graduating class it was almost all girls.

It's all just anecdata of course but I'm not seeing the pattern.
posted by XMLicious at 3:21 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eh, my high school didn't have a football team either. I'm not arguing that women can't be competitive. But in the specific example of who would bother fighting on Wikipedia, I can't imagine any of the women I know spending a lot of time defending their position on a topic, and I can imagine many of the men I know getting emotionally invested in it. "Someone is wrong on the Internet!" is more likely to come from a man, in my experience.

But also just anecdata from me, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:57 PM on March 10, 2012


SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WIKIPEDIA! The first paragraph of the "behavior" section of the article on femininity agrees with me.

You may also want to google "assertiveness training women" - see how many seminars pop up for that very precise market.

I did a fair amount of googling, and googling terms like "women socialization "be nice"" bring up some themes, although I didn't come across one particular article that said "here's what women are socialized towards in the West." I don't think it's too controversial, however, to suggest that women are broadly discouraged by society from the sort of directly confrontational behavior that might be necessary to "win" an edit war on wikipedia.
posted by kavasa at 4:00 PM on March 10, 2012


Oh, well hey if stuff is marketed on the premise that women are inherently noncompetitive, that clinches it. Marketing always has to be based on fundamental truths. :P :)

Veritron seemed to be speaking much more generally and didn't seem to be talking simply about socialization, but as far as the specific example of Wikipedia, sure, it makes sense to me that when people get fixated, it could be more likely that men will become fixated on Wikipedia-type activities than women. There are gender differences in the manifestation of OCD, for example.
posted by XMLicious at 4:28 PM on March 10, 2012


I can't imagine any of the women I know spending a lot of time defending their position on a topic

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I'm female. Go look through my comment history. Go look up any Internet board that's frequented by women; check out parenting boards, or pregnancy/birth boards, for example. Google the phrase "mommy wars."

As far as this thread goes, one may, I think, make a fair argument that those values --- precision, depth of technical understanding, in-group feat-based cred --- are more associated with men than women.

Counterexample: Ravelry.
posted by KathrynT at 5:03 PM on March 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't imagine any of the women I know spending a lot of time defending their position on a topic

My mileage - across close to 30 years of mailing lists, USENET groups, and web forums - varies.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:10 PM on March 10, 2012


Being combative and argumentative requires not only energy but confidence. I've been intrigued by the stereotype threat idea lately, because it seems to address at least part of why women don't feel confident in male-dominated spaces (or spaces perceived as such) like Wikipedia.

I will say re Pintrest that the women I know online tend to gravitate towards spaces that already have a significant female presence, perhaps because it indicates less hurfdurf show me your boobies action is likely to be happening. I don't know if Wikipedia has ever had that kind of problem, but any place that's mostly men comes to seem unwelcoming to lots of women, by default, especially on the internet. You only have to get harassed a few times before you decide that participating in male-heavy spaces is a risky proposition.
posted by emjaybee at 5:14 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had blocked my memories of misc.kids.breastfeeding. I withdraw my statement.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:54 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THEN ANY OTHER SITE ON THE INTERNET!

Are you sure? The difference between Pinterest's approach and Flickr's has been mentioned a lot in recent online discussions, e.g. in this, The Genius of Pinterest's Copyright Dodge, linked from the Atlantic piece:

But why, for example, has Pinterest failed to implement a straightforward system for recording the rights status of images its users post, as Flickr has? The answer is simple: By resolving the rights on an image after the fact, Pinterest creates a frictionless mechanism for sharing. Which is precisely why the site has taken off.

Also, the original blog post from the lawyer/photographer taz first pointed to at Business Insider above and the follow-up after Pinterest's co-founder called her implies that the way Pinterest's terms of service leave the user on the hook for legal costs *Pinterest* might incur in defending itself from a copyright claim is unusual. I don't know if that's true, but that's the impression she left me with.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 PM on March 10, 2012


So, academics using academic language in an academic venue? Seems pretty reasonable to me.
...
I appreciate sometimes academics can go over the top with their language, but seriously, these words are easy to understand and serve a useful purpose. What's with the hostility?

These are valid points that are worth trying to address. The reason that this terminology annoys me is mainly because there is no need to invent words to express what are fairly intuitive and commonplace ideas. This is the sort of thing that gives ordinary people the idea that academics spend all their time navel-gazing in ivory towers. "Well if that's what you meant, why didn't you say so...?"

It comes off as pretentious when you take a simple concept and make it sound more complicated with clumsy jargon. Terminology is valuable when you need shorthand for a complicated idea, but when it's not necessary, why create this linguistic distancing? These kinds of academics might find a wider audience for valuable ideas if they didn't so often feel the need to gild the lily.

Also, I'll cop to the fact that this particular kind of jargonizing rubs me wrong. "Verbizing" (see what I did there?) nouns smacks of the empty corporate culture cliches that no sane person likes in any setting, corporate or otherwise.

I was under the impression that 'othering' and 'problematise' came from postmodernism/critical theory...?

I shouldn't have implicitly narrowed my complaint to feminism; frankly, this is off-putting wherever it is encountered. Postmodernism is the master class of making the simple sound sophisticated, and wrapping bullshit in serious-sounding terminology; I'm very much with Harold Bloom when it comes to my feelings towards this school of thought. To be honest, I feel a lot more comfortable criticizing postmodernism than academic feminism. In the case of the topic of this post, I'm really only complaining about the jargon while praising the content.
posted by Edgewise at 9:54 PM on March 10, 2012


Oh jesus Metafilter. You hate jargon now?

Yes, I, metafilter, hate all jargon. That's who I am, and that's what I was trying to say.
posted by Edgewise at 9:57 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is complicated because, sometimes, jargon is useful. "Othering" is a great example -- it is specifically linked to this idea of "the Other," and it is very hard to write a sentence using this concept in a succinct way without using something like "othering." "Problematize" is weaker, at least to me, because it seems to really mean "think critically about" and could probably be scrubbed from the language with little pain...

You may have a point about "othering." I guess, in that case, my main complaint is simply that it's a tad clumsy.
posted by Edgewise at 10:00 PM on March 10, 2012


I'm female. Go look through my comment history.

Ditto that. Yeesh.
posted by Miko at 10:07 PM on March 10, 2012


"Someone is wrong on the Internet!" is more likely to come from a man, in my experience.

Yeah, what a colossal waste of time ;)
posted by infini at 10:15 PM on March 10, 2012


I'm late to the conversation, but I think Pinterest is great and use it primarily for collecting ideas for home improvements. It would be a perfect place for a DIY community to grow (hint hint Mefi DIYers). You could post pictures of your finished project, and link to your blog post "how to."

What bothers me a bit is the superficiality. The fashion pics of rail-thin people, the architecture pics of mansion-sized spaces and unbuildable ideas. But that's the world. For the most part it's like facebook: it all depends on whom you follow. It takes a little effort to steer clear of annoyances, but it can be done.

On the front page of my Pinterest feed now are these amazing tiles, woodblock prints by Ray Morimura, a frugal flooring how to, the Burgbad Sanctuary landscape, this bird, many interior design shots like this and this and this, a tattoo, an expensive light fixture made of recycled cardboard, crocheted hotpants from the 1970s (!), and Renate Aller oceanscapes. That's all stuff I like.
posted by slidell at 11:46 AM on March 11, 2012


Just opened up my email this morning to find out that our fabulous eat-local group is now using PInterest to share recipes that use seasonal ingredients, GMO news, book recommendations, and more.

Not so stupid.
posted by Miko at 1:49 PM on March 11, 2012


> Ditto that. Yeesh

To defend myself: I was specifically talking about Wikipedia. As far as I know, no women I know are getting into editing wars on Wikipedia, and I do know some men who are.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:34 PM on March 11, 2012


Maybe women I know -- women in this very tread -- are getting into editing wars on Wikipedia, but they're not talking about it the way men I know are.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:35 PM on March 11, 2012


There are a couple women on MeFi who are active in Wikipedia.

For myself, I contributed to it a lot when it was brand new. I swiftly tired of it, though. But it was not so much because of the editing wars as it was for the profound lack of editorial standards - far from an obsession with precision, it was in fact a lack of precision that drove me batshit. Looking at parallel entries, such as for two R&B stars or two vegetables or whatever, you will find there is almost no structural similarity as to what topics get covered - even today. It's an incredibly sloppy and micro-focused approach.

Since then I have gotten into a couple of editing discussions, but I find the format starting to feel dated and irritating. I just dislike Wikis as a structure; they're wonky and hard to follow and the versioning process makes it quite easy to ignore, duck points, and lose track. There's a lot of tree, not so much forest. The whole thing, backstage, takes on an atmosphere of drudgery.

I think that if you looked at who "gets into editing wars" on Wikipedia, the defining characteristic of those people would really not actually be gender, as I suspect the most active userbase are as different from males who participate in other online experiences as they are from females who participate in other online experiences.
posted by Miko at 7:13 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Yahoo! Screen launched its live stand-up comedy st...  |  Un Hommage à Thomas Pynchon's ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments