Why I don't like Tumblr and Posterous

by / Filed under Web

Actually, I don’t mind Posterous (RIP) and Tumblr at all (rubbish markup aside). But there are very few Tumblogs I’d bother following.

According to Tumblr, a tumblog

…lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your theme’s HTML. Tumblr about page

Which is all well and good. It’s pretty handy being able to publish stuff quickly with a minimum of fuss. Reading or looking at other people’s stuff is a more patchy affair. Your mileage may vary, as they say, but I’d rather read a blog post about a video, image or story – even 100 words of opinion or analysis can be interesting – than just be pointed to it (indeed, these sorts of posts can often spark ideas).

Although it is possible to post a 6,000 word essay on Tumblr, it’s not really built for that. The dashboard and app encourage one click/tap publishing as you surf the internet.

So it can be a shame when bloggers switch from a standard blogging platform like WordPress to Tumblr (Cameron Moll, for example). Before, we benefited from an expert’s opinion and/or good writing, now we just get a stream of links and disconnected commentary. It’s a more passive experience: writer points to x and reader dutifully follows.

And although comments can be a pain in the backside, they have far more character (and interest, sometimes) than a list of trackbacks or, worse still, a list of x liked this-s. So what? These sorts of lists often indicate how well regarded the author is, rather than the value of what is posted.

I can understand why authors want to free themselves from the tyranny of writing several hundred words to a schedule. It’s hard work. And long blog post after long blog post can get monotonous for the reader. Perhaps a lot of what are now popular blogs started at a time when there was plenty to rail against (tables, websites built for one browser, unreadable typography etc.) and the didactic post was necessary to get the message about standards, readability etc. across. Maybe that generation of bloggers isn’t so angry.

After a while, the posts dry up and the author who still likes publishing stuff begins to consider the tumblog. But what excites you as a reader more? A link to something cool or a proper article?