Why I Started a Tumblr

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m pretty conservative and behind-the-times when it comes to trying out new technology and online services. I created my first blog in 2003 on LiveJournal, only to discover that everyone I knew had been using it for a few years. I moved to WordPress in 2006 and have been using it ever since for my blog. I tested Facebook out when it launched (back before it was publicly available) and didn’t think it was all that exciting or would go anywhere. I never got into MySpace. Admittedly, I’ve had my Twitter account for quite some time, but I only signed up for Instagram a short while ago.

I think about these things, and try to find a use-case for my life before signing up. I might test something out, but it really needs to fit a niche that isn’t being met by another service. And much to my surprise, Tumblr is fitting into my set of online tools really nicely.

What I needed was an easy place to throw pictures, text, and notes for sharing. I wanted this to be a public page, but with an emphasis on unpolished work, such that I don’t find it suitable for this site. And after using Google+ for a little over a year, I began to feel like it didn’t fit the bill.

Google+ is much more a central profile than it is a social network, which means that I’m carefully weighing how I share each item I post. If I share it publicly, that item becomes a highly visible part of my online profile. What’s worse, it’s not easy to search through, or even scan. The layout of content is cluttered, and the algorithm that judges what is and is not displayed is confusing and frustrating–reloading the page will show you different content than you saw a moment before, not because there is necessarily new stuff, but just because Google+ decided in that moment that other items take priority.

So Tumblr is becoming my notepad. I like that it has automatic formatting for the different types of content I want to throw into it, from text to pictures to short quotations. And the format of it gives me permission, or helps me give myself permission, to be less precise and edited and polished. I’ll allow more typos and sloppiness there because I’m focused on getting the content in quickly, often from a mobile phone, than I do on this site.

We’ll see if it lasts. If I’m still using it in August though–if it can survive the doldrums of the summer–it’ll be safe to say that Tumblr is a keeper.

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