Chances are you may have at least heard of Dropbox and Pinterest. Dropbox is web-based file-hosting and sharing service––think your “My Documents” folder synced to a “cloud” and accessible within seconds (if not instantly) to other devices and synced computers. The service also makes it very easy to share documents or folders with anyone via a link or email. Pinterest, on the other hand, is a visual, social photo-sharing website and app. Users can “pin” photos, videos, and discussions onto a board that can represent whatever commonality or association they desire. The end result is a series of visuals linked by an author-determined common theme. The posts can be re-pinned, “liked,” or commented on across public posts or among friends.
Stand back for a moment. Both Dropbox and Pinterest were new functionally to the market. Both applications define a new, compartmentalized function (synchronized online file-sharing/storage and social photo-sharing, respectively). Both applications are based on the sharing of content, whether that content is files or visual content organized on “boards.”
Both Dropbox and Pinterest have simple concepts and are beautifully designed, but they do something that the average user doesn’t seek. They provide an innovative method for sharing files and visual content in an organized and intuitive manner. Innovation! Both are thinking about traditional functions in other mediums or systems and reapplying the concept to an online use. Any social media user, specifically someone familiar with Facebook, knows that with the expansion of the “Like” and “Share” buttons to every website, it has become easier than ever for any user to share content on Facebook. In turn, the content shared on friends’ news feeds has become less and less useful. An application like Pinterest enables you to collect visual content (that you may or may not have shared on Facebook or other social channels already) and curate it on a board conveying some general idea. Single-function, well-designed applications that are built on a social backbone enable users to filter out the noise from the deluge of content plunging down our news-feed waterfalls.
In contrast, Dropbox is a natural progression of cloud-based file storage and sharing, but the cost of the application (free up to 2GB) and desktop/mobile app compatibility make relying on it second nature as we use our mobile devices more and more. Draft a word doc on your iPad on the train on the way to the office, open the same file on your desktop and make final changes, then run to a meeting and send a link to the doc to your colleagues from your iPhone––simpler and more seamless than carrying thumb drives or the email-download routine.
Dropbox and Pinterest––use them, get to know them, try to break them. The apps and their core functions are the future of concentrated, single-purpose content sharing. Learning how to use new applications early on can help you develop a clearer picture of how you will interact and share content in the future as the world becomes more and more mocial (mobile social).
Author: John Carew