On Tumblelogs

Via nostrich [post disappeared since]:

I’ve been using Tumblr for about 6 months now. In that time, I have come to this decision: tumblelogs are the way forward. They are going to change the way we blog. (Important distinction: I am not equating Tumblr with tumblelogs here, it just happens to be the service I use to publish mine, and probably the most popular one.)

At the moment, long-form blogs are the norm. And why not? There are a lot of smart people out there documenting various things on blogs. Be it anecdotes, the latest gadgets, or lengthily-researched essays. Over the last ten years, the number of people blogging has, quite literally, exploded. But here’s what I think: they’re going to be facing stiff competition from tumblelogs within three years. Tumblelogs are still a bit of a gimmick and aren’t really taken very seriously at the moment on which I’ll expand on shortly but that is going to change.

Consider this, as an analogy. You might read your newspaper everyday, and watch the news in the evening, and perhaps read a few magazines. These activities are what better us a individuals. They keep us current, and they expand what we know. But wouldn’t it be boring if that’s all we ever did? Even the most studious of persons needs a break. In between all this bettering ourselves, our lives are punctuated by advertisements, off-the-cuff quips with friends, and the funny pages in your favourite newspaper. And that’s what tumblelogs do or will do provide the in-between.

It’s not like that at the moment. It’s still a young concept. It’s too self-referential for one thing which I would be so bold as to blame on Tumblr. Many tumblelogs consist of the same old rehashed stuff we’ve seen before, with countless people reblogging everything else, and producing very little unique content. Reblogging is ok in moderation, but not to the extent it’s happening at the moment on Tumblr.

People will start to realise this soon and start producing more original content. They’ll stop just re-posting stuff they saw elsewhere, and discover their own cool stuff instead. To go back to my analogy: it’s all good and well repeating a joke you heard somewhere, but the same jokes over and over get boring and stop being funny.

If you want to see what a tumblelog can be you only have to look at Kottke or Fimoculous. They don’t market themselves as such, but they’re tumblelogs. And they’re brilliant ones. Perfect examples, in fact, of what I hope tumblelogs on a larger scale will mature into.

I’m not proposing that the long-form blog is dead in the water. Just that it will reach a point where it’s frequently punctuated with the sort of content currently restricted to tumblelogs. We’re going to see a sort of amalgamation of the two becoming commonplace. With the long, thought out posts punctuated with other short content.

I’m that confident of this that I’m going to replace my blog – currently residing at nostrich.net [ed: disappeared since] – with this tumblelog soon (the resolution of a few technical considerations pending). I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think it’s a natural move to make. I wonâ’t get into boasting numbers, but I now have roughly the same amount of people following or subscribed to my tumblelog as I do subscribed to my regular blog it humbles me to admit that, because I always secretly hoped my blog would become hugely popular, but it never happened (not that I’m complaining at all). And you know which audience I prefer? Of course you do. It’s you! I’m sure I’ll lose some readers in combining the two, but I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do. For me, at least. So look out for a few changes around here in the future.

The tumblelog is going to take off, and mature, and become mainstream. I’d put money on it. I pretty much just staked my readership on it.

I just wrote this at 9am, after an all-nighter. I’m sorry if it’s incredibly dull or riddled with mistakes.

I considered the idea, but finally went against it, mainly because Tumble lacks the tools of navigation you have in WordPress.

Update

I’ve had contact with Nostrich @Nostrich via Twitter. His site is still up, but when tring to find the post back via his archive you will see (as I see) that the time involved in wading throught his archive proved me right in stopping with Tumblr in time.

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