PinwheelAs many of you might know, I snap a lot of photos. Most of the time they’re all event photography (conferences, tweetups, parties, social gatherings, etc.), but on occasion, I do sightseeing, nature, and architectural-type photos. What I love about my camera is that it helps me capture the memories of where I’m at and lets me remember my life as I’ve lived it so far. But when I don’t have my fancy camera in tow, I rely on using my mobile device and often push these photos to Twitter, Facebook, Path, and Foursquare, but it doesn’t offer me any sentimental or contextual information with those sites. So imagine my interest in this new startup started by one of the founders of Flickr where the purpose is the “find and leave notes all over the world…

It’s called Pinwheel and it’s started by Caterina Fake. Currently in private beta, this startup allows you to share notes (public or private) with whomever you choose–it doesn’t matter whether it’s an individual, a group, or the entire community. Your notes can also be segmented by sets, almost like it’s a Foursquare list. Examples of these lists that Ms. Fake says is possible could be “Tales from the Road: KISS’s 1974 Hotter Than Hell Tour” or “Find me a nearby toilet NOW“. By creating and also following your friend’s sets, you’ll be able to discover some really great things around your neighborhood, city, state or even country!

Pinwheel Note

Above is an example of what a note in Pinwheel would look like (if you click the image, it shows a much larger and full-size version). From the screenshot, it has a sense of being a mixture of Flickr, Path, Foursquare, and Facebook, and Evernote–all in one. In the example, Ms. Fake created a note at the Grand Central Subway and associated a picture and a brief description of what she’s doing at that particular location. Depending on whether she made it public or not and to whom, people would be allowed to comment on it. This would be especially useful if you were on a family trip and you wanted to do a virtual “wish you were here” type of thing for your loved ones. Imagine if you were off traveling  in some foreign city, but you wanted to keep in touch with your loved ones and share your memories, then theoretically one could use Pinwheel. All relevant content would be specifically filtered so that only you and your designated loved ones would be able to see you enjoying the food, the sights, the drinks, and the fun. It does seem almost like Path, except you can have specific audiences instead of one, and it allows more than 150 friends.

While the service is still in beta release, Pinwheel has already seen some pretty original and inventive types of notes: ancestry, located poems, old postcards, found objects, etc. But in her blog post, Ms. Fake shares what a personal note found on Pinwheel would look like, and that’s what she finds the most interesting and special.

Pinwheel private note

As you can imagine, Pinwheel is a very experiential service and it’s main selling point is that it will help you relive and share your memories. Not a stretch for someone who created what some might say is the largest photo-sharing site on the Internet. For years, Ms. Fake’s involvement with Flickr has helped millions connect with one another and share photos of their lives, loved ones, friends, parties, and creative spirits. Pinwheel is a natural evolution of her efforts and is a pretty good effort. As she puts it in her post, “Part of why making Pinwheel is so fun, is so exploding with possibility, is that a note, like a photo, can be a container for all kinds of things. It is the perfect social object.” She’s totally right–we aren’t constrained in Pinwheel to post just a text description or a comment. The imagination is endless with this social app.

While thinking about this post, I did some searches on what a pinwheel actually comes to represent. In the Chinese tradition, a pinwheel has come to represent the flowing in and out of fortune. It might seem like a stretch, but the pinwheel seems to be a symbol of sharing memories between a group of people back and forth and forever for all time.

Pinwheel is only available for those with early access. Right now they’re in beta mode so you’ll need to sign up on their site to get an invite.

Photo Credit: Bundles of Cookies

About the Author:

Ken Yeung

Editor-in-Chief of and an accomplished interactive producer in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area interested in all things in tech and marketing. Whether its gadgets or startups or related issues, he's eager to learn about it. From attending local and national conferences to appearing at events, parties, and other meetups, Ken is interested in sharing what he sees. Oh, and he's an accomplished photographer too, having been commissioned by Mashable, TechCrunch, TechSet, SXSW, BlogWorld, and many more.

Visit Ken's page at

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