When Allie Ryan was a young girl, she had an old school folder chock full of pictures of ideas she wanted to try someday. There were bracelets made from beads and neat hair dos, often on pictures torn from old magazines.
"I would rip out pages of hairstyles I liked," remembered Ryan, 19, of Vincent.
Today, Ryan simply logs on to her Pinterest.com account to find her personalized "folders," filled with photo after photo of things she likes or wants to try including recipes, interior design projects, ideas for her sister's beach-themed birthday party and crafts.
Pinterest defines itself as a virtual pinboard that lets each user "organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web," according to the site's "About" link.
On Pinterest, a pin is defined as an image that is added to a person's Pinterest account. The image can be added from a website using Pinterest's Pin It button or can be uploaded from a computer.
Millions of new pins are added to users' Pinterest accounts every week, according to wikipedia.com.
Pinterest.com launched in March 2010. Its co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann was just 27 years old when the site went live.
By January 2012, the site had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.
Pinterest.com became the third largest social network in the United States in March 2012, surpassing Linkedin and Tagged.
Today Pinterest claims more than 20 million users.
Millions of new "pins" are added to the site every week.
Popular categories on Pinterest are travel, cars, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion and art.
Source: experian.com/hitwise, wikipedia.com, comscore.com.
At a glance
68.2 percent of those using Pinterest are women.
50 percent of Pinterest users have children.
The average time spent on Pinterest is 15.8 minutes, compared to 12.1 minutes on Facebook.
The 25 to 34 age group comprises the largest percentage of Pinterest users, at 27.4 percent. Those aged 35 to 44 are the second largest group, at 22.1 percent.
These pins can be divided by category, in a way that is similar to yesterday's folders in a wood or metal filing cabinet.
Popular Pinterest categories are travel, cars, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion and art.
Many Pinterest users learn about the site through recommendations from friends, family members or coworkers.
Lacey Lanning, 25, of Marietta was introduced to the Pinterest world about six months ago by a fellow employee at the Lafayette Hotel.
"She said 'You have to look at this!'" said Lanning.
Always on the lookout for craft ideas she can do at home with her children, Lanning was quickly hooked on the site, she admitted.
"There's so much on there," she added.
Lanning likes to create categories on Pinterest like ways to do hair, a collection of "gorgeous" photo pictures, crafts, recipes and do-it-yourself projects.
Using Halloween ideas she got from others on Pinterest, she has made sugar cookie fingers with almond fingernails and a lighted decoration for her bushes fashioned from a paper towel roll with eye shapes cut into it and filled with a glow stick.
Lanning has already created a Christmas-themed Pinterest board.
"After Thanksgiving, I'll go back and look at it," she said.
Deborah Thomas, professor of psychology at Washington State Community College, started using Pinterest to find free patterns and tips for quilting, sewing and crocheting.
"I initially started using it because of crafts. Now I have boards for recipes, household hints, cards, animals and photographs," Thomas said.
"It brings all of those interests on to one site that I can personalize," she added. "It's turned out to be a lot of fun."
Pinterest projects for Thomas have included food dishes made from recipes shared by other Pinterest users and a crocheted angel bookmark and afghan.
Crysta Bourdon of Marietta first signed up for Pinterest to get ideas for her 8-year-old son's birthday party.
"He's kind of a quirky kid," she said. "He wanted to have a 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' birthday."
Thanks to her Pinterest pins, Bourdon designed a birthday party with a treasure hunt, shrunken head decorations and a mermaid centerpiece.
Constructed out of cardboard, the mermaid was half monkey and half fish-similar to the one Robert Ripley falsely claimed was a real mermaid.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, Bourdon is excited about the holiday ideas she has found on Pinterest.
On Thanksgiving Day, she'll take cut out leaves and a tree branch with limbs to her mother's house where dinner is held.
"Everybody will write something they're thankful for (on the leaves) and pin them on the branch," Bourdon said.
"It might start a family tradition besides eating and football," she added.
Bourdon has been pinning tree decorating ideas for Christmas.
"I have a pink Christmas tree that I'm looking forward to decorating," she said. She may also choose a Dr. Seuss Who-ville theme for one of the family's three trees.
Those who have tried Pinterest have found it to be user friendly, they say.
"It's extremely easy," Lanning said. "Most people have Facebook (accounts) and link Facebook to Pinterest. Then they can log on through Facebook."
Bourdon was in agreement.
"(Facebook) makes it really easy, too easy, to find your way around quickly" with categories and search engines, she said.
Admitting that she has an "addictive personality," Bourdon said she has to control her use of Pinterest.
"I know I have to give myself limits," she added.
Pinterest has also proven addictive for Ryan.
"It doesn't take long for me to be on there for a half hour when I'm supposed to be studying," she said. "It's definitely addicting."
Putting her psychology knowledge to use, Thomas expressed a concern about the potential for addictive behavior related to Pinterest use.
"Almost anything has the potential for addition," she said. "Something that is very reinforcing (and) keeps a person engaged, it's very likely the individual will spend more and more time doing that activity. Pinterest is one of those activities."
Ali Doerflinger, associate professor of psychology at Marietta College, echoed Thomas' concern.
"On Pinterest, you get lots of social reinforcement much the same way that Facebook has friends and Twitter has followers," she said.
Time spent on Pinterest can be "a little bit of an escape or break from the mundane," Doerflinger added.
To limit the time spent pinning, she suggested users set boundaries for themselves.
"In the same way we limit children's television, ...we probably have to be better about regulating our own boundaries," she said.