Monday, January 11, 2010

This Tumblr Thing

The topic of Tumblr came up in conversation the other day, and it lead to three types of responses.
  1. What's Tumblr?
  2. Tumblr's awesome!
  3. Sell me on Tumblr.

Twitter's not a great venue for real answers to 1 and 3, so I figured I'd take a swing at it here, starting with question 1.

Tumblr is a free blogging service, like blogger. You create an account, they host the blog, simple as that. It's very lightweight and easy to use, and it has some very nice bookmarklets available to make it easy to post rich content (embedded images, music, video and such). One of the guys behind it is also the guy[1] behind instapaper, one of my favorite services.

So, that's all well and good, but if that's all there is to it, who cares? And thus we get to response #3.

First off, Tumblr is probably the easiest of the blogging services to use. If you just want to capture your thoughts and the interesting things you've found on the Internet, then there's no easier platform. I had previously considered blogger to be the easiest one to use - the blog you'd set up for your mom - but tumblr is simpler still. So if you only want to maintain one blog, and you don't want to worry about things like versions and plugins, tumblr is probably the best choice.[2]

Second, that ease of use still floats on top of a layer of fairly robust system, allowing for an account to have numerous blogs. This offers a utility that might be familiar to Livejournal users - it's wonderfully set up for temporary, purposed accounts, such as a journal for a character in a game. As such, it's worth just having an account to be able to use it for specialized interests. Also, like Livejournal, it includes a view of all the other tumblr blogs you follow via your dashboard. it's not as sophisticated as LJ's friend management, but it does the job for basic friend & community stuff.

Third, it's an excellent clipping service. If you purely want to track images, articles and videos that catch your interest. Tumblr's a great bucket to dump those into.

The last advantage of Tumblr is one that's fairly specific to established bloggers. If you've got a blog that's committed to a particular topic (or even to a particular sort of tone) then you have a commitment to that mode. But sometimes, you just want to post a LOLcat, or a neat picture, or some snarky comment that particularly caught your interest. A second blog that's just for that sort for thing can be incredibly handy, if only for your sanity.

Anyway, Tumblr is far from an end-all-be-all, but it's pretty handy, and if you're curious it's probably worth checking out.

1 - His blog is also a great example of how good a blogging platform Tumblr can be. If you're wondering what a good tumblr can look like, check it out.
2 - I chose blogger for this blog for reasons of simplicity. In retrospect, Tumblr might have been an even better matc


  1. I have a tumblr account. That, and the glory that is the aTumble app for my Droid make me a happy, happy internet user.

    The greatest strength of tumblr's design is that they wanted to create a system that worked really, really well for microblogging, and then made it scale up.

    In fact, the only weakness of Tumblr is its lack of a comment system, to which I have installed, incredibly painlessly, a Disqus plug-in.

    -Forvrin on livejournal.

  2. Oh, nice! The comment thing was the big outstanding question for me but I didn't want to remark on it because I hadn't tested the options. Thank you for cutting out that step!


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