Returning to Tumblr


I have had a Tumblr site for a long time but never knew what to do with it. What is Tumblr exactly? Is it a hosted blog? Is it a hosted blog for hipsters? Is it a social network? Why should I put content into Tumblr?

I have this blog, but I barely use it. I don’t have a Facebook page, because I don’t trust Facebook and how it repeatedly changed and confused privacy settings and after college, I rarely found that Facebook was a net positive in my life. Recently I crossed 1000 followers on Twitter.

I like the sense of control offered by owning where I put content. But the barrier to posting a blog post has always felt high to me. A blog feels somewhat permanent. It’s something I want my current and future employers and friends to read it. It’s a record of ideas that felt worthy of memorializing. I have tried over and over again to lower this perceived barrier to blogging and failed.

At the same time, I find the quick ability to favorite/like, retweet/re-broadcast, and respond on Twitter to be addicting. It is so easy to give feedback and join a conversation. As a result, I’ve probably written more, 140 characters at a time, on Twitter than I ever have on this blog.

For me, Twitter is an ephemeral medium. It is about instant conversation and access. What I dump into Twitter doesn’t have any lasting power, which is why it’s so easy to toss out thoughts. Twitter is my new IRC, not a microblog.

Writing on Twitter in 140 characters often seems to attract the worst in people. It’s not just #gamergate, it’s me. My ideas are more sarcastic, more acerbic, and less well considered because Twitter feels like an off the cuff conversation among friends. But it’s not a conversation among friends. It’s not really even a conversation. It’s a bunch of people shouting at each other in the same room. Twitter is less a late night dorm room debate and more the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Which brings me to Tumblr, a service I think I finally understand. Tumblr is Twitter, but for people who take a breath before shouting. It has the same rich post types that Twitter has implemented through Cards. It has the same ability to magnify posts I find interesting through its reblogging feature. It also has the same ability to send a bit of encouragement and acknowledgement through its hearts. But Tumblr also doesn’t have the limitation of 140 characters, so I can spread my thoughts out just a bit further. And Tumblr does have a reply/conversation mechanism, but it’s just slightly “heavier” feeling than a Twitter reply so I’m less likely to just shoot off my mouth with the first thoughts that come to mind. Though Tumblr is a hosted service, it also has a fairly good API that can be used to export posts and the ability to use a custom URL. I could generate more post types on my Pelican blog, but a self-hosted blog lacks some of the social features that are just fun. And the truth is, do I really want to just put a link to a song I’m listening to right now on my blog? Is that kind of ephemera really worthy of a blog post? Maybe, but that’s not the kind of blog I want.

So I am going back to Tumblr. I have been experimenting for a couple of days and I really like having a place to dump a link or a funny picture. I don’t want Tumblr to host my blog, but I do want Tumblr to eat into some of my Twitter posting. I can easily syndicate Tumblr posts over to Twitter, so why not take a little more space and breathe before deciding it is worth sharing something.

Please follow me on Tumblr. I think it’s going to be really fun.

Cross-posted on both my blog and my Tumblr

This entry was tagged as meta

Nov 02, 2014


November marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The quick version is folks band together and support each other to write 50,000 words in November.

I would love to write a novel one day. I am not sure I could do it well, but I am pretty ...

Oct 09, 2012

Where I Share

I have been meaning to write this post for the past couple of weeks. Like most other people, I am constantly experimenting with different ways to publish and share my thoughts and engage with social networking. Lately, I have settled into what feels like an “end state” workflow1. I ...