Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Replacing Delicious with Pinterest

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It’s probably fair to say that Pinterest, the ‘virtual pinboard’, has recently grown from almost nowhere to becoming one of the most interesting new social media sites. You can create various ‘boards’, each on a theme, to share interesting things with friends, either on Pinterest itself or through into Facebook.

Actually, it’s not unlike another service that lets you share interesting things on the internet, and it’s one that has been around for quite some time: Delicious. Although I’m hoping the future of Delicious will be much brighter now that it’s no longer owned by Yahoo and is being actively updated with new features, Pinterest has a lot going for it right now. So I wondered – would it be worth ditching Delicious and moving to Pinterest?

First of all, I’m clearly not the only person who has thought about this, and a quick Google search returned a couple of blog posts: Pinterest is what Delicious could be and Pinterest or Delicious: Social Bookmarking Coming back as Digital Curation, both from back in February (because as usual I’m three months late to the party). There’s lots of screenshots, but not much in the way of comparing them.

Pinterest – the plus points…

Pinterest is ‘cool’, at the moment. It’s new, and amassing large numbers of new users every week. It appeals to a wide range of people, including a higher proportion of women compared to many other social media startups (according to Time Magazine anyway), and certainly most of the people who follow my boards are women. I imagine that there’s a high engagement level – certainly some of the things I’ve posted have been liked and re-pinned very quickly.

It has good integration with Twitter, and, in particular, Facebook, and it works especially well with profiles that have been upgraded to the ‘Timeline’ style. If you pin something to one of your boards, then your Facebook friends can see it too, without any extra jiggery pokery with third party services.

There’s a very nice iPhone app, and for other mobile devices, there’s a good mobile web site as well.

…and the negative points

Unfortunately from a geek perspective, Pinterest falls down. There’s no public API, so getting data in or out is difficult; you can only pin items using a bookmarklet, for example, and you can’t use services like ifttt to automate actions. There’s no integration with mobile apps like Pocket or the various Twitter clients, so to pin something you would need to open it in a web browser and then use the bookmarklet. There aren’t even any RSS feeds for exporting data.

It’s also not a general purpose link sharing site – it was never designed as such. In particular, you can’t pin any links that don’t have an image or video, which rules out a lot of articles. Plus, some pages on sites which are concerned about copyright infringement cannot be pinned – Flickr recently added an option which prevents sharing, for example.

How about Delicious?

Delicious isn’t so well designed, and doesn’t have as many users – a number of people who used to use Delicious now use its non-free rival Pinboard (I compared the two last year). However, its relaunch in September has seen a number of improvements and it now supports ‘Stacks’, which are very much like Pinterest’s boards – although whereas Pinterest forces you to assign each pin to a specific board, you don’t have to put every link in a stack if you don’t want to (I very rarely use stacks, myself). Delicious also lets you tag links, as it always has, as a more ad-hoc way of organising links.

Delicious does have an API, and so I have a number of ifttt recipes to share links to Facebook and Twitter, and import links from Google Reader. It has also launched some Twitter integration of its own, so that any links in favourited tweets are imported. I can also get an RSS feed of my links which I can use for the weekly digest that is automatically posted to this blog every Saturday.

It doesn’t, however, have native integration with Facebook – that’s something that I have to handle using ifttt.

In summary

Pinterest isn’t really suitable for sharing general purpose links – interesting articles, that kind of thing. It’s best for sharing things like recipes, fashion, wedding ideas and furniture. And that’s fine – that’s its purpose. But if you want to save any old links, Delicious or the aforementioned Pinboard are your best bets.

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