Experimenting with Pinterest – Making Research Open

Pinterest is a social media platform I’ve dabbled with before but due to the heavy existence of ‘Cupcake Recipes’, ‘Wedding Inspiration’ and ‘Home Decor’ ideas on the site, I soon got over its initial novelty and deemed it unsuitable for my needs/personality (although I was a big fan of the regular Cute Animals). Yet a couple of articles over at the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog has made me question this assumption. Both Deborah Lupton and Amy Mollett make some excellent claims about the ability and use of the website in academia, the research process, sharing ideas and dissemination.

For those unaware of Pinterest, it is essentially an online ‘scrapbook’ that allows you to ‘pin’ visual elements of a website (pictures, videos etc) to certain ‘boards’ that you curate, which are then open to the public to view (or private if you wish). Each pin provides a link back to the website and space in which to describe, explain or title your ‘pin’. The ‘boards’ tend to be thematically based and allow you to collect, organise and share your ideas, resources or outputs together in a  highly engaging, visual and accessible manner.

So I am now back on Pinterest. You can find my profile and boards below, under the Reading tab or at pinterest.com/simoniancook and in doing so you will see that I have taken influence for the Mollett piece about using Pinterest to create reading lists – reading lists that are very public – consider them the public display of my Zotero database. On these boards (currently based upon key concepts in cultural geography, methods and my research interests – so stemming from my MA work) there are books, papers and videos that I have read, am reading, hoping to read or that just relate well to the themes of the ‘board’. I hope in the future to be able to use Pinterest for conducting research, sharing research and rethinking outputs, but for now this is my pilot study!

Pinterest Screen Grab

So my reasoning behind producing such public reading lists is threefold. Firstly it is one of my many attempts to foster a practice of open research, whereby not only are my outputs publicly visible, but the process of that research is also public and the research process often begins with reading. Hoping for a transparency to my work, I also feel a certain responsibility to documenting what I am doing/reading. I am fortunate to be a fully-funded Masters and then  PhD student and this funding essentially stems from public money – I want them to know they are getting good value for their investment (hence why I often tweet about #MyHEday). Secondly, I hope it can be a way in which I can conduct ‘public geographies’  (the subject of a future post). By making such things open and on a platform that is much more public and popular than traditional academic arenas, I wish to engage the public into what I’m doing and share readings with interested parties. This also relates to my third reason – I would like to see this scrap-booking process as a way of creating a public resource for those studying similar topics, researching the same subjects or just enthusiastic about geography (and running in my case). I would love undergraduates to use this resource as a starting point of a literature review or introduction to a concept/method, other running scholars to compare reference lists and for the general enthusiast to find inspiration. Will anyone look? Will it be useful? Will it be another short-lived novelty? Time will tell – this in an experiment after all.

If anyone likes the ideas behind creating such public reading list and resources and wishes to collaborate I am only too willing to have you involved. Pinterest allows ‘boards’ to be collaboratively curated so contact me and we’ll set it up. There are currently ‘boards’ related to things like place, space, culture, mobilities, public geographies and of course, running geographies (plus many more to be added).

I have been thinking about public geographies and open research quite a lot recently (as I say, a future blog post will be dedicated to it) and Pinterest is just one of the way I am attempting to make my research open and public. The past week I have been fairly active in setting up an online and open profile / portfolio which I am pretty happy with currently. It is now possible to find out about me and my research on:

  • Twitter – I am an active tweeter discussing many things geography, running and academia related as well as general musing
  • Academia.edu – my academic profile where it is possible to access my papers, presentations and CV
  • LinkedIn – find out about me, my background and my professional credentials / story
  • FigShare, Scribd. and ORCID all host my publications
  • Slideshare – find my presentations on here
  • Pinterest – find out what I am reading and watching for my research
  • Jographies – the best place to keep up to date with my research, doings and musings.
  • Find all of this again on the Contact page and on my about.me profile

So please feel free to follow/add/connect/stalk me on any of these and share away – let’s make research open!


3 thoughts on “Experimenting with Pinterest – Making Research Open

  1. purplecords says:

    Hey Simon,
    Very interested to see how this goes. I’ve been using delicious, mainly for myself to collect interesting web resources related to the phd without cluttering up my zotero too much. It is also public, but I haven’t really told anyone about it… I probably should! You can be my first: https://delicious.com/samsaville. Having looked at your boards, I think this is a lot more friendly looking. Do you get muddled as to where you filed what/ which software etc? I manage to continually flumux myself in that respect, thank goodness for search facilities!

    1. simoniancook says:

      Hi Sam,

      Great to hear from you and glad you observing the experiment with interest. I do also get confused to where things have been stored or filed on pinterest, zotero, my computer, my cloud storages etc. So yes, thank god for search functions. I do find pinterest a little time consuming unless I pin as I read rather than block pinning. Like the delicious – seems to be able to host a variety of media. trouble with pinterest, if there is no pinnable picture, you can’t pin the site. I use Pocket to store my web clippings (but this is private). I rarely go through it though so it may be a bit redundant!

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