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On Tumblr

August 5th, 2014 · 3 min read

I first started my tumblelog late February 2007, the same month Tumblr was founded. Back then I also maintained a separate WordPress blog, where I jotted down my thought in, for lack of a better word, longer form. Over the years I found less and less free time to keep up with my once-a-week posting schedule and finally pulled the plug on that blog. The tumblelog still lived on, thanks to its ‘microblogging’ nature.

I remembered posting about Tumblr’s appeal to me: it’s a glimpse into a user’s day, documenting his adventure on the wild web. I can follow someone, check out what they find interesting, all without the nuisance of being followed back. It’s a one-way relationship that works much better than Facebook’s friendship model. Some said Facebook is where the people you go to school with hang out, and Twitter is where the people you wish to go to school with ramble about their life. For me, Tumblr isn’t about people; it’s all about interesting content from people I know nothing of. And it’s perfect like that.

The different forms of posting (text, photo, link, etc) are also brilliant: they’re richer and convey more meaning than Twitter’s burst of 140 character tweets, yet it’s extremely easy to create a new post. I kept the ‘Share on Tumblr’ bookmarklet on my bookmark bar, and posting to my tumblelog is always only a keyboard shortcut away.

The way I browse these social networks is also different. I check Facebook every day to catch up with friends’ lives from thousands of miles away. I check Twitter every few minutes to find the latest things happening, read quips people make, add seemingly interesting links to Instapaper, or just view pointless cat pictures. Somehow they become an addiction/obligation that I need to fulfill regardless. My Twitter feed blows up every time a ‘big’ thing happening: an Apple/Google/Microsoft conference, a natural disaster/military conflict in a faraway land, or a football/American football match that I couldn’t care less about. I quickly rush to my Twitter client, skim the wall of tweets, desperately trying to get those ‘xxx unread tweets’ messages to go away. It’s a game in which the only winning move is not to play. All the while, I feel at ease browsing my Tumblr dashboard; there’s no obligation of any sort: I can leave it for days without even logging in, and still can go back later to read only a fraction of those new posts.

On the blogosphere (does anyone even use this word anymore?), there’s a move towards removing the comments. They are toxic, they say. They contribute nothing to the article, they say. This movement I wholeheartedly back. In Tumblr land, there was a time when there were no comments nor replies. They later added it, but I didn’t care about that ‘feature’. Tumblr exists solely as my public diary, and I couldn’t care less about ‘fostering a conversation’ on it.

Late 2008, I made a thing called TumblrStats. I haven’t updated it for 4 years, yet it’s still working to a point. At the start it was a bunch of crudely written JavaScript and PHP code, later I hastily ported the back end to Ruby and migrated to Heroku as my web hosting contract ended. I kept renewing the domain year after year, unsure of what to further make of it.

Somewhere during my iOS development career, I also spent some time working on a native TumblrStats client. It never materialized as I quickly lost interest and forever remained an unfinished project in my Source/ directory.

As with many of my blog posts, I never quite find the right way to conclude a stream of thought. I’m running out of steam and will cop out the same way I’ve done countless time: That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. (See what I did here? I said I don’t care about having an audience, but I still want you not to think this rambling has an abrupt end after the last paragraph.)