When Pinterest launched last year as part of a new wave of social curation tools it simplified sharing what you were into by allowing you to "pin" stuff from around the web to your personal site. As a Pinterest user you can see what other people are sharing and follow individuals with similar tastes, allowing you to discover new stuff that would be inaccessible without a group of sufficiently arty friends to draw from. Now shopping portal TheFind brings us Glimpse — crossing Pinterest’s approach to discovery with the tyranny of the Facebook Like mob. However, despite the novel idea, what Glimpse has on offer looks a lot more like the Top 40 than Pinterest's eclectic record collection.
Once you enable the Glimpse app on your Facebook account, a visit to its site greets you with a Pinterest-style mosaic of images for stores and brands chosen "based on what you have Liked before, sorted by popularity and the latest trends." Clicking on the link below an image brings you to that store or brand's page, where you can check out higher-res pictures of individual products. Clicking on one of these images counts as a "Glimpse" — kind of a passive Like (pictured below) — that gets added to your list of Glimpses and posted to your Facebook timeline if you have the feature enabled (it's on by default).
The focus here is primarily clothing, although we're seeing a few links for things like Drugstore.com and Sephora. Unlike Pinterest, there’s little snowflake-like individuality to be found at Glimpse, at least for now. The images and products we’re getting are, for the most part, for large brands like Karmaloop, Foot Locker, Hugo Boss, and the most contentious of footwear, Crocs. This might just reflect the homogeneity of Facebook opinion, but it's also likely that the influence of Glimpse's Trendsetters — "select fashion and design brands and bloggers who are working with TheFind" — has something to do with it.
By selecting brands and stores to display based on the number of Likes they accrue, Glimpse emphasizes conformity; the site is saying "Need to buy a new shirt? Let’s see what everyone likes." In contrast, what makes Pinterest so compelling is discovery — finding something personally recommended by a live human you’re following because of his or her tastes and interests. To be fair, Glimpse does give you a quick way to check out your friends’ Likes, but it’s clearly an afterthought compared to the shopping experience. And while we're on the subject, if you want to stand out from a competitor like Pinterest with a shopping-centric site, you really need to nail the shopping. Glimpse falls short here too, failing to provide tools to search for types of products (i.e., "show me neckties"), or a "show more like this" button.
In short, if you need to find some new clothes and are too busy or indifferent to do the hard work of trolling online stores, Glimpse could be worth a look. However, if you’re looking for a fun way to discover new content and products, with hooks into your Facebook account, it's hard to do better than Pinterest.