In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Exploring Naming Behavior in Personal Digital Image CollectionsThe Iconology and Language Games of Pinterest
  • Tami Sutcliffe

More than 70 million independent user-curators have annotated their personal image collections on Pinterest since 2010. This translates into enormous numbers of individuals developing particular sense-making behaviors within the big, messy, organic datasets of Pinterest.

Naming in Pinterest is a collaborative expressive exercise as well as a private creative outlet. To capture the richness of the activities involved, a range of Wittgenstein’s language game constructions was overlaid on a sample of 700 individual pin image names, using a matrix composed of Panofsky’s subject matter strata, Rosch’s levels of categorical abstraction and Shatford Layne’s image attributes.

The intricacy of the examined surface grammar suggests Pinterest user-curators in this sample invested time and creativity in naming their collections, embracing name creation as a central aspect of the collecting process. User-curators volunteered names with a relative depth of personal meaning, contributing this personalized language across all content complexity levels of the associated images.

The relatively unrestricted naming activity visible in self-curated image collections like Pinterest offers a glimpse of both the strengths and weaknesses of a user-driven naming system. Exploring the language choices that user-curators make as they adapt individualized curating vocabularies identifies underlying user needs not apparent in traditionally curated collections restricted to standardized naming conventions. Witnessing the way images are named by engaged user-curators may assist architects of other virtual image collections to reduce factors that may have previously discouraged user name contributions.

Click for larger view
View full resolution

Tami Sutcliffe, Iconology of Pinterest, final dataset screenshot, 2015.

(© Tami Sutcliffe)


MIT Press Journals Podcasts

The MIT Press Journals Podcast series allows Leonardo authors and contributors to continue the conversation initiated in the pages of the journal in dialogue with each other. Tune in to hear from authors, editors and artists working at the intersection of art, science and technology. The MIT Press Journals Podcast webpage currently hosts a discussion between Jean-Marc Chomaz, Mikael Fernström, Sean Taylor, Annick Bureaud and Roger Malina on their work in the arts and sciences showcased in the article collection, Water Is in the Air: Physics, Politics, and Poetics of Water in the Arts; a conversation inspired by Leonardo e-Book Series release Art and Atoms, featuring Tami Spector, Philip Ball, Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone, Julian Voss-Andreae and Roger Malina on the connections between science—especially chemistry—and art; and more lively, engaging discussions of interest to the art/science community. To learn more: <>. [End Page 462]

Tami Sutcliffe
<>. PhD diss., University of North Texas, U.S.A., 2014.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 462
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.