The App Gap Has Replaced the Slang Gap

| Fri Apr. 13, 2012 11:55 AM EDT

Back in the day, fuddy-duddies like me could be identified by our ignorance of the latest teen lingo. Many a comedy skit has been built around this trope over the years. The slang gap is still with us, of course, but I think the app gap has become the real tribal marker these days. And the gap keeps getting bigger and bigger. For example, I learned about Instagram sometime late last year, which pegs me as modestly fuddy-duddy-ish. It could have been worse, after all! I could have been reading stories about their billion-dollar acquisition earlier this week with no clue about who they were.

Today, though, I learned about the latest photo-sharing site:

Pinterest, whose name combines "pin" and "interest," allows members to share images of products they like and create digital versions of homemade scrapbooks. There isn't much room for commentary, which analysts say can give it more appeal to advertisers than sites like Facebook and Twitter, which can be platforms for consumer discontent as much as commerce.

About 70% of Pinterest's users are women, who use the site to post images of their favorite fashions, housewares and food.

"Facebook is like being at a cocktail party, whereas Pinterest is almost like a Tupperware party," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which advises companies on e-commerce. "People are not just chatting about anything — sports talk, or 'oh my god, my mom is sick,' or 'I love my cat' — it's already more commercial. It's people saying, 'I love this product.' "

The LA Times informs me that Pinterest has 23 million users and may well fetch two billion dollars if it's sold in the near future. Take that, Instagram!

I'm just baffled by this. Is photo sharing really that hard? It's not, is it? I mean, these photo sharing companies all seem to have about a dozen employees, so there can't be much to it. So what's their selling point? Instagram makes your pictures look like old, faded snapshots, something that strikes me as interesting for about two minutes. Pinterest's claim to fame, if the Times can be believed, is that "there isn't much room for commentary." So....just photos. And that makes them worth a couple of billion dollars?

Seriously? WTF is going on here? Are we in the middle of another dotcom bubble? Or a social media bubble? Or is it just a photo sharing bubble? Do our bubbles keep getting narrower and narrower over time? Or what? All I know is that I've sure turned into a dinosaur mighty fast.

UPDATE: Just to show that I'm really out of it, today I learned that Mother Jones has a Pinterest page and I didn't know it. It even has a catblogging pinboard. Click here to see it.