The Fastest Way to A Webpage – Pen.io
Pen.io is a new service that allows users to post content to the web quickly, easily and, if desired, anonymously. While services often claim to be easy, I found that Pen.io was truly simple to use. Creating a page with Pen.io is as easy as filling in the desired URL (or using the generic URL provided) and deciding on a password for future editing. After the new page has been created, users are redirected to the editing view of their URL where they find a description of how to add text, videos, images, additional pages or edit the page in the future using the password they created. None of this editing process requires knowledge of HTML and the tags that are used by Pen.io are very self-explanatory (i.e., to add a video to a page users type :video followed by the video URL). Adding images doesn’t even require a tag; instead you can just drag and drop an image onto the page. And, according to a TechCrunch interview with the founder, there are plans to allow drag and drop functionality for additional document types in the future. As a quick way to post content to the web, Pen.io could also be a way of linking longer posts to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which is one of the uses that the company highlights. In addition to further integration with these social networks, Pen.io also plans to debut new services and a new page editor in the future, but hopefully Pen.io pages will remain quick and easy to create even with these new features.
As with almost any easy to use service, there are limitations. Users have little control over page styles and text formatting beyond the basic ability to decide where to put images or videos and the ability to add spaces and paragraph breaks to their text. In my use, I also found that it is difficult to include punctuation marks, such as periods or commas after links without having them run together as part of the link. But, these limitations are really just part of Pen.io’s focus on speed and ease of use over allowing every possible functionality, all of which are available through other services for those who prefer more robust editing options.
Despite these limitations, or really because of them, I think Pen.io is a great service for those who are new to the web or uncomfortable with technology. Even users with minimal technology skills will now be empowered to create their own webpage and share it with friends and family. While Pen.io offers only a very plain look for its pages, this is actually one of its strengths since this is one of the ways that it strips away the normal complexity of creating a web presence. And, because it is so easy to use, I think that Pen.io has a lot of potential for libraries that want to offer their patrons an easy way to get started with the internet. Many public and school libraries offer classes for patrons on getting started with the internet and I definitely see potential in adding Pen.io to these offerings. Pen.io is easy enough to use that even young children and patrons with little to no computer experience will be able to create a webpage and have the sense of accomplishment that goes with that process. And, it can be a great way to share this accomplishment with others as well. Patrons can create a page with photos from their travels or a family gathering quickly and then share these with family members and friends or students could create a webpage based on a class project that they can show to their parents at home. Overall, I think Pen.io is a great introduction to the internet for those with little experience and I hope that libraries are able to take advantage of this new tool to help patrons to connect with family and friends online. If you are interested in seeing what a Pen.io page looks like, you can check out my first attempt here.