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March 18, 2012 / carlispina

Leave Your Mark On The Map With Pinwheel

Pinwheel LogoLocation applications are currently all the rage. Several services have jumped on this bandwagon with each offering different functionality and unique user interfaces. Choosing your ideal app requires evaluation of which set of options will best fit with the way that you use applications.

Currently in closed beta, Pinwheel offers users an opportunity to leave notes on a map of the world. The focus of the service, which was started by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and just launched on February 17th, is sharing notes between users. Users can follow other users, places or “sets”, which are collections of notes grouped by theme or location. Users can find friends to follow by connecting their accounts with their Facebook or Twitter accounts. And, by setting their home and work locations on Pinwheel, users can make it easy for other Pinwheel users to leave notes for them at these locations. Each individual note also has the option to be publicly viewable, viewable only by friends, private so that only the user who created the note can view it, or viewable only by select users. Notes can include text and images, as well as tags to make them easier to find. Text can include links, and, in fact, if you include a URL, Pinwheel will automatically make it an active link. Using Pinwheel is free, but the company plans to make money through sponsored notes which will not be free.

So far, Pinwheel is a bit restricted by the fact that it is only starting out. Because notes are currently only visible to other Pinwheel users, they have limited impact. I connected my account to my Twitter account and didn’t find any friends who are currently Pinwheel users. This is particularly an issue while the service is in private beta but might change with time as more people start to use the service. Though it feels as though it will be a limitation even then. I would prefer to have the ability to be able to share my notes and sets with those who don’t belong to Pinwheel. If that were possible, I think this would be a great resource for libraries that are interested in creating neighborhood or campus guides.

But in spite of this limitation, Pinwheel is a fun way to share thougPinwheel Iconhts and photos about locations and even with its current small user base, there are already interesting interactions going on. It has both an easy learning curve and the ability to create and read notes on the go with the mobile version of the site (and an iPhone app is already under development). It is definitely worth requesting an invite to the beta version!

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