The Internet’s Social Libraries: Pinterest and Pearltrees

Miranda Moore

Social media is something that most people use every day. Whether we’re updating our statuses on Facebook or taking pictures of our food on Instagram, social media is used to keep up with those near and far from us.

A popular trend in social media is a sort of webpage described as a “social library.” A social library is a way of digitally collecting things that interest a person and then sharing them with friends. Pinterest is one well-known social library. Another is Pearltrees and, although it may be lesser known, it serves a similar purpose.

What are these social libraries and how do they stack up against each other?

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is basically an online pin board that relies more heavily on pictures than text, though text can also be used. The user will pin these images or texts to their “pinboard” in order to keep track of their various interests. Users are able to keep multiple pinboards for multiple topics.

Nvate Social Libraries by Pinterest and Pearltrees

Pinterest was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp. The site is managed by Cold Brew Labs and is funded by a group of investors. The development of the site began at the end of 2009 and a closed beta version was released in March 2010. The site soon progressed to an open beta with an invitation-only way to join. Now, the site is open for all to join. Users can sign up via their Facebook accounts and link their Twitter account to their Pinterest profile.

Much like that of other social networking sites, Pinterest has its own terms for how to work the site. For example, each time a user posts an image or text onto their pinboard, it is called a pin. Similar to Tumblr with its reblogging action, every time another user’s pin is shared, it is called a repin.

In addition to the website, Pinterest also has a mobile app that is available for Apple and Android devices.

What is Pearltrees?

Pearltrees was founded by Patrice Lamothe, Alain Cohen, Nicolas Cynober, Samuel Tissier, and Francis Rocaboy. Development began in 2007 and an alpha was launched in March 2009. The open beta, which was the site’s first public appearance, came that December. In October 2011, Pearltrees was added for use on the iPad.

Nvate Social Libraries by Pinterest and Pearltrees

Credit: Pearltrees

“Pearltrees is a free, visual and collaborative library that lets you organize web pages, files, photos and notes to retrieve and share them anywhere easily,” according to the Pearltrees’ website. “Leverage Pearltrees’ community to discover amazing stuff related to your interests and enrich your account. Access anything you save in Pearltrees from all your devices.”

According to their FAQ page, the user can keep everything they like in just two clicks and then they are able to collect everything they have clicked in their own way. Pearltrees allows the user to create an unlimited number of folders and subfolders to keep their “pearls,” which are the web pages, files, photos or notes they have collected, in. Since Pearltrees is a digital library, users can also find and see other Pearltrees that feature topics that interest them. You can even choose to follow certain Pearltrees.

Pearltrees users can also team up with one another to collaborate on a Pearltrees as well.

Pearltrees versus Pinterest

Users can link their Pinterest and Pearltrees accounts to their Twitter and Facebook. While both of these sites are free of charge, Pearltrees offers members the option to upgrade to a premium membership, which is the option of three plans—personal, advanced or professional. The user also has the option of buying several plans at once.

The personal plan is $1.99 a month and the user has 5 GB of storage, obtains full privacy control, has the offline mode on mobile, can edit their content, archive, customize everything, enjoy high-priority support, and see no promotions.
With the other two plans, the user gets the aforementioned benefits as well as more space. The advanced plan is $3.99 with the user getting 25 GB, and the professional plan is $9.99 with the user getting 100 GB. The professional plan comes with the added benefit of white-label Pearltrees. These pearls have an embedded HTML, meaning the pearls can be posted to another website.

Though Pearltrees provides more features and very well-priced premium plans, Pearltrees is the lesser known social library. Pinterest has the advantage of being the simpler product to use and a person doesn’t have to have a Pinterest membership to look at Pinterest pages. Users have to log on to Pearltrees to view Pearltrees pages. The fact remains that Pinterest is a household name, and Pearltrees isn’t there yet.

According to Antoine Msika, community manager for Pearltrees, the site has 3 million monthly active users and more than 1.3 million contributors as of November. As of July, Pinterest has 70 million users, according to The Next Web, with about 5 million daily pins on average as stated in TechCrunch.

With social media sites having such similar features and uses, they need to find ways to differentiate themselves. It is also hard for a user to leave a product or website once they are accustomed to it. Regardless, Pearltrees and Pinterest offer users the chance to become part of the social library.

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