By now you've probably heard of Pinterest. If not, it's only a matter of time. In a mere two months or so, the social network has gone from little-known beta startup to hottest social network since Facebook.

So what the heck is Pinterest, and how do you use it? I've got a quick tutorial to show you the ropes.

  1. Pinterest is essentially a Web-based bulletin board (think: cork, thumbtacks, and photos) where people share images of stuff they like (think: Facebook without all the drivel).
  2. At the moment, it's still an invitation-only site. You can click Request an invite and submit your e-mail address, or ask someone who's already signed up to send you an invitation (which they can do by mousing over their username and clicking Invite Friends from the drop-down menu).
  3. Even without signing up, you can browse "pins" that others have posted. By default, Pinterest shows a little of everything: food, fashion, products, sports, travel, and so on. But you can easily focus the content by choosing a category.
  4. A pin is little more than a photo with one or more comments, plus a link to the site where it originated.
  5. Once you have an account of your own, you can pin items using various methods. The easiest: upload a photo from your computer, or use the Pinterest "Pin It" button (which is essentially a bookmarklet) to pin from whatever site you're viewing.
  6. In addition to pinning miscellaneous items using Pinterest's available categories, you can create your own "pin boards": collections of pins based on any topic you want.

Needless to say, Pinterest is a very social service, offering integration with Facebook and Twitter and matching you up with friends so you can see what they're pinning (and vice-versa).