Tag Archives: Caterina Fake

Using Findery In The Classroom

I was at Bury College today to lead a practical session with some of their Year 1 BTEC media students. The group is coming to the University of Huddersfield next week for a Taster Day and sessions on TV, radio, magazine design and PR, so I thought I’d give them something a little different, and led a workshop focusing on the internet’s near-future.

I got into Google Glass, Augmented Reality and how the race is on among media companies to produce mobile-friendly content that will work well in these areas. With even the BBC News website reporting that more than half of its page views at weekends are now from mobile and tablet devices, the decline of the desktop seems to be coming about faster than we might have predicted.

To illustrate this, I got the students to make some notes on Findery. I’ve written here before about how I’m a fan of the site, which is run by Flickr and Hunch founder Caterina Fake. These days it’s out of beta and open to the public on the desktop, mobile web and as an iPhone app. I thought it would be useful for a workshop of this kind with students, because it’s all about making content that can work on mobiles but which uses an attractive and user-friendly desktop CMS.

The session seemed to go pretty well, and you can find the notes left by the students here. Findery is also appealing because the technology works like a charm, and the number of possible uses for it – from personal stories to local history to Instagram-style here’s-what-I’m-doing-now pictures – make it flexible for a variety of different audiences. I’ll be using it again in future to make some other point about the media, I’ve no doubt.

Pinwheel Becomes 2bkco, At Least For Now

Pinwheel. As it was.

(UPDATE 28/7: Well, that was quick. Pinwheel has now become Findery. You can read the announcement in this blogpost)

I’ve written about Caterina Fake’s new start-up Pinwheel on this blog before. The location-based service for leaving notes and photos has been in beta testing for the past few months, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using it.

But the platform’s steady progress towards a public launch has hit a bump in the road, in the form of a legal ruling from a New York court. A judge issued a preliminary injunction against the use of the term Pinwheel, following a complaint from an older but lesser-known photo-sharing service called Pinweel. The full story is at Techcrunch here, and the ruling can be read in full here. Pinwheel has responded by reverting to the moniker 2bkco, which is the name of the company itself.

Although it’s just an initial injunction which could be overturned at a later hearing, Marketing Land’s Greg Sterling argues here that 2bkco would be better served just finding a new name and moving on. After all, the service hasn’t yet been launched and so the damage from a rebranding exercise would be relatively minimal.

I’m inclined to agree with that analysis. Admittedly, 2bkco/Pinwheel has the considerable reputation of Fake (of Flickr and Hunch fame) and a good deal of Silicon Valley cash at its disposal. But that personal and financial capital would be much better spent on the business of continuing to build a quality product and a community to use it, rather than on a potentially lengthy legal battle with uncertain prospects of success.

In the meantime, you can request an invite from the 2bkco/Pinwheel homepage.

Pinwheel, The New Social Media Contender

You can see notes that people have left by looking on the map. I've been busy, as you can see.

A lot of people who know about these things tell us that the future of the internet is SoLoMo. That is: Social, Local and Mobile. Personally, this somewhat irritating buzzword always reminds me of this late-period Beach Boys hit, but never mind.

A new platform which combines all three of those qualities is Pinwheel. Currently in private beta, it allows users to post notes about anything and everything at specific locations on the site’s map, along with a short bit of text and a photo. It’s got elements of the location check-ins of Foursquare, the treasure hunting of Geocaching, the crowdsourced knowledge of Wikipedia, and the photo-sharing of Flickr. The last of those is hardly surprising, given that Pinwheel has been founded by Caterina Fake of Flickr and Hunch fame. She’s written a blogpost explaining more about Pinwheel here (see also a brief interview with Forbes here).

So far, so shiny. But is it any good? Well, I got an invitation to Pinwheel a couple of weeks ago and have thoroughly enjoyed playing with it so far. The process of leaving notes is very easy and smooth, and there’s a mobile app on the way which should make things even better. You can tag your notes and organise them into sets on a particular theme, and follow other users or sets in the now-familiar manner. Although the best discoveries are probably to be made by simply searching the map for a particular place or postcode and seeing what’s there.

I’ve generally been posting pictures of my local area and old holidays, and writing little anecdotes giving a bit of history, or folklore, or some other relevant details. I think this sort of crowdsourced information from personal perspectives could offer a valuable addition to our knowledge, without the ‘Citation Needed’ pressure of doing a Wikipedia entry.

Another one of my slightly morbid old holiday snaps gets a new airing.

There’s already a wide range of notes appearing here and there, from deeply personal memories to tips on where’s good for lunch. I suspect the latter may prove to be the function of Pinwheel that most people find useful, and the site plans to make money by allowing sponsored notes for businesses.

At the moment there are very few Pinwheel users, and the quality of many of the posts is high. After all, these notes are potentially going to be there forever, so if you’re writing one you may as well make it something that someone is going to find interesting.

But I wonder what will happen when Pinwheel opens to the general public, and mostly useless notes (“it’s sunny today, yay!”) start appearing all over the place. Filtering those out and finding a way of prioritising the better ones, perhaps ranking them according to the number of times they have been favourited, might be a crucial way of helping the platform become really useful.

In the meantime, you can request an invite by going to the Pinwheel website. Pinwheel’s Twitter account is here.