Thoughts on tumblr

Remember how people said there was no real need for a device category between smartphones and laptops? And then Apple sold 40 million iPads?

That's kind of how I felt about Tumblr.

Blogs are obviously great for musings, essays, and a web presence, and Twitter's fine for thoughts and links and pics. Why have something else, in between?

I don't really have a good answer, just like I can't fully articulate why the iPad experience is so much better than a laptop or smartphone. But I'm starting to see the appeal of Tumblr.

Beyond the usual accolades from early adopters / influencers, something that stayed with me was a quote from Tumblr's founder: "No one is proud of their identity on Facebook."

Very true. And true of a Twitter page, as well. But Tumblr sites... can be something to be proud of. And they're effortlessly fast to set up. While I have strong sentimental attachment to this site, Blogger's recent attempts to make themselves slick feel like so much else Google does these days -- uninspired, clunkier copies.

I've been looking for a way to breathe new life into the 8+ years of writing here. Tumblr's "random" button and their vibrant archive views are a great start. When you consider how easy is is on Tumblr to tag old posts, and how elegantly you can display redirect pages for tagged posts (or photos, or music) and offsite material in the sidebar, well, I was sold.

Then, of course, I had some buyer's remorse. Tumblr is unapologetically different from other social networks. It took me a while to even realize that their "dashboard" is nothing like Blogger's, and in fact more like Facebook's news feed. And it's taking me some time to get comfortable with "reblogging" which almost seems like effortless plagiarism, if you're not conscientious about citations.

Tumblr's search function is completely broken. I have to believe they're working on a fix, but probably making a point of taking their time -- as if to say we're living in a post-Google age.

While I lamented Tumblr's decision to stop importing RSS feeds a few months back, I see the wisdom. I would have gone to town with importing thousands of tweets and countless photos, on top of all these blog posts. As it is, it's still possible to reintroduce old content -- it just takes a little more effort. Just enough to tip content generation in Tumblr's favor, rather than using it as a lifestream repository like Evernote or Friendfeed.

Still, it was fun to watch people throw some hearts at some old photos I uploaded, and I didn't mind the occasional reblog. And really, Tumblr's too good-looking to fill it with a bunch of text links to tweets (maybe someday we'll have something like Postano's yolink feature, to fetch images and content from those links, along with the tweet).

Twitter will always remain to go-to choice for conversations and conferences, and I think Blogger will still be my first option for sit-down-and-think kind of writing. But for now when I'm browsing and come across something interesting, I'm just going to try Tumbling first. And I'll be watching to see what new tools come online, as Tumblr grows to become the next great social network.