I have a tumblog: afhill.tumblr.com. I created it after a discussion with former co-worker Matt Sidesinger. At the time, I asked him why someone would use tumblr as opposed to delicious: I viewed it as a place to store information online (rather than as a primary blog of thoughts). Matt’s explanation made sense to me: it was a way to display things in a more graphical manner; delicious links were for his own use, a tumblog was a way to share things with others.
It made sense, and I happily started tumbling quotes, links and images, primarily related to social media. However, it has occurred to me that the notion of “sharing with others” isn’t playing out as I had intended, as I am not really sharing, I’m simply collecting.
At the Thin Air Summit this weekend, one audience member mentioned that she is not as good a community player as she should be; she would like for people to stumble or digg her content, but she doesn’t think to do it herself often enough. A simple enough statement, yet so true.
Why do I use tumblr? To easily gather content I like and want to recommend to others. So why am I not leveraging the existing sites that do this well?
This weekend I installed the stumbleupon toolbar, and stumbled a few articles I’d already forwarded manually to friends. Yesterday I received notice from the author that the site had received some good traffic, in part due to my stumble. Fantastic! Isn’t that the point? To recommend and circulate quality information?
I asked my tweeps who all used tumblr, and received back a few comments:
Text-friendly version of the above:
@slimgoodies: @afhill I use it to collect interesting/inspiring stuff for later use, when the well runs dry http://slimgoodies.tumblr.com/
@cbarcelona: @afhill Shust (@getshust) uses Tumblr for a couple of his blogs as well.
@cbarcelona: @afhill I use Tumblr as primary blog. Have to admit I’ve been terrible about posting lately. Twitter hooked up directly to feed posts.
@jenjmeredith using tumblr to log all of the pretty things I see that I like: http://jenispostingon.tumblr.com.
I know plenty more folks on tumblr, who chose not to speak up 🙂 Yet I’ve noticed that their frequency of posting has diminished somewhat in recent months.
When I worked the social media cafe at iCitizen last Spring, we showed off tumblr as an easy way to blog. Yes, it was stripped down; there was no commenting on by default, the API was clunky and I never managed to embed it properly where I wanted to. It occurred to me recently, though, that perhaps its day is done. As twitter ramps up with third-party services like TwitPic or TinyPaste, it becomes increasingly easy to get beyond the 140 character limit to push enriched content out to an awaiting public.
If an author blogs in a forest and no one is there to read it, does it really get posted? I believe there are many reasons to blog, and they don’t all have to be geared towards mass consumption. But my objective was to share found content with others, and upon reflection I’m not sure tumblr is the best platform to do so. I don’t really promote my tumblog, so its reach is minimal. I believe in the Groundswell POST approach: People, Objectives, Strategy and then Technology. Reviewing my objectives, it appears that tumblr is not the ideal solution.
I heard it once described that if a blog is a journal, tumblr is a scrapbook. That seems to be a good analogy: a scrapbook is something personal, it’s a piece of art. Yet is it an effective means to disseminate information.. perhaps not.