Visually-Oriented Social Tools: Pinterest, Tumblr, and…?

So much emphasis in the Digital Humanities is on the written and the computational– it’s easy to forget that one of the major revolutions of the internet, especially once we got past dial-up, is the ease with which users are able to produce, manipulate, and share images.

For those of us who are deeply visual thinkers, however, this is a very important development.

I would like to propose a session discussing technologies of social image sharing like Tumblr and Pinterest. I think that tools like these have a lot of potential to draw in visual thinkers, encouraging them to learn, aggregate, and create in ways that our more textual social tools– blogs and Twitter, for example– might not.

I’d love to see people’s examples of Tumblr, Pinterest, and other similar tools in the classroom as part of a social pedagogical approach, as well as good examples of these tools being used for outreach and sharing by libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations.

There are, of course, deep and fundamental issues with these sites– they are not specifically designed for this context. There are issues with metadata, deepness of data, and attribution, among other things. I’d like to see a discussion of what a perfect image sharing site for these types of use-cases might look like: more sorting? More thought given to citation? Greater opportunities for discussion and description?

Is this a tool that digital humanists should be working on? Should we be building a better social image sharing tool? Can something like this be built off of any existing open frameworks? Is this something that educators and cultural institutions would embrace, or would they tend to stay with the less-than-perfect commercial vendors because that’s where the people are?

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About Tad Suiter

Recent history PhD currently (and hopefully temporarily) without institutional affiliation. Looking forward to meeting some people in the New England DH community. I've been going to THATCamps since the first one-- although during that first one, I was just a shy, lowly grad assistant at CHNM, and didn't feel like I "belonged" at THATCamp, so I just hung out in the Center doing metadata and heard about the day. The next year, I actually screwed up my courage and attended, and had an amazing time. I'm now the owner of a large collection of THATCamp tee-shirts. I'm very interested in the intersection of academic and public history, digital methods for both scholarly communication and cultural institution outreach, situating DH in terms of media history more broadly, and looking at the ways digital methods can help us do media history. I'm passionate about archives, museums, and access. I'm also interested in social justice issues, issues related to technology and accessibility, and at the more "yack"-y end of DH, using critical theory to look at the sometimes-problematic implications of our digital projects. Outside of the DH and Public Humanities realms, my interests also include history of communications, black history, whiteness studies, history of rhetoric, and comics studies. I play the ukulele, badly.