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Automattic (aka WordPress) acquires Tumblr

I used to blog on Tumblr exclusively. But then the community got stale — other users stopped posting cool art and gifs as they gravitated to Instagram.

Even worse, Yahoo acquired the Tumblr platform for $1.1 billion in 2013 and never made any major upgrades to the micro-blogging site other than inserting in invasive and irrelevant ads.

Like Flickr, another great product that went bust under Yahoo’s control, Tumblr dissolved into irrelevancy. The site took a further blow when it banned porn, including artsy content like this.

Don’t get me wrong. I still use Tumblr today but for mere syndication for this blog.

But Automatic, the company that owns WordPress.com, just bought Tumblr from Yahoo for $3 million.

No one’s expecting a revival of Tumblr’s once-creative community but it could signal an effort to get back to the service’s micro-blogging core that made it unique from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other social network.

Wrote Automatic CEO and founder Matt Mullenweg on his Tumblr blog:

The Tumblr team also has some exciting functionality they’re eager to unlock once we close the acquisition officially in a few weeks…

Matt Mullenweg

So let’s see what exciting things WordPress has in store for Tumblr. I, for one, might be rediscovering/reblogging content on there in the meantime.

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Platforms of Choice

I always ask younger people their social network of choice just to make sure what the stats say match up with reality.

Mobile First

Almost 9/10 say Instagram is their primary network while Snapchat is used on occasion. Facebook goes unmentioned because it’s just part of everyday life, like reading the newspaper or checking email. Consumption is assumed.

Very few people I talk to say that Twitter is their first choice. However, those who do claim the network to be indispensable. Twitter is their tool for discovery, sharing, and online discourse. Not surprisingly, these people are mostly writers and heavy readers.

The Others

Tumblr and Pinterest are always mentioned as ancillary networks that are fun, useful, and niche but not to die for.

Flickr never gets mentioned. And neither does Path, Highlight, nor Secret. It’s not surprising that these are all apps more popular in Silicon Valley than amongst common users. Nerds rarely create waves of mass adoption.

Conclusion

Instagram is killing it. It’s the best way to tell edited and sometimes raw stories about your life. People communicate in pictures. Since Instagram grew up as a mobile app first, every UI and UX aspect of the app is optimized for mobile devices.

Facebook has done a good job in allowing Instagram to operate on its own terms and market itself outside the social networking Goliath. But in a few years Instagram will too be normalized and a new social-sharing phenomenon (probably a more private one) will be the talk of the town. Facebook, too, is covered there with WhatsApp.

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Blogging types

There are three types of blogging:

  • Fast – Twitter
  • Medium – Tumblr/Medium
  • Slow – WordPress

Twitter is a micro-blog because you write in a succinct 140 characters or less to get your message across. Naturally, Twitter is for breaking news and conversation.

Tumblr is a bit slower then Twitter. The feed is lighter and the posts are lengthier, capable of mixing all media types: Images, videos, GIFs. Tumblr is a social network on top of a blog, but it’s more about showing inspiration rather than snarky conversation.

WordPress is a more traditional form of blogging. It allows for stories and thicker analysis. The platform is customizable but the content feels more rigid, like a news site.

As a blogger, I prefer to first write for the medium paced thinkers. Tumblr allows me to post a juicer piece like this without rambling on too much as well as a quote or photo to express myself, kind of like a pin board.

But it really doesn’t matter which format you choose. Just share what you think is interesting. Teach the world something new. Show people that you have the ability to think or synthesize other people’s thoughts. Think and create out loud. Just avoid using your blog to complain.

Here’s some more advice on blogging if you’re interested.

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Social is mobile and vice versa.
Social is mobile and vice versa.

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Micro-blogging = noise.
Micro-blogging = noise.

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Ev Williams’ Medium is Blogging for the 9%

“Medium occupies the space in-between WordPress and Tumblr.”

Medium is a great publishing platform for the occasional blogger. I actually enjoy writing in its minimalist environment more than I do publishing on it.

But I feel the same way about Medium as I did when I first started Twitter. I get it and I don’t get it at the same time.  That intuitive nature is what makes it feel obvious.  

“Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company…Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.” CEO Ev Williams, Medium

Medium is just another platform hosting what people already enjoy, i.e. expressing themselves in more than 140 characters but not as a long as a book or Long Read.

The main reason I like writing on Tumblr is that it’s a creative platform for blogging original content, and curating and consuming stuff you like. Meanwhile, Medium is Tumblr with a focus on original text.  

Online writing platform succeed because people want to express themselves.  And at the end of the day, people want to share where users already are.

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4,000 posts! Wow, this is my 4,000th post on Tumblr.  I love getting all weird and creative in this place.  I post something daily in attempt to be consistent and connect the dots.  Tumbling is thinking. 
4,000 posts! Wow, this is my 4,000th post on Tumblr.  I love getting all weird and creative in this place.  I post something daily in attempt to be consistent and connect the dots.  Tumbling is thinking. 

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Dizzee Rascal mashes up Vine and Cinemagram for new video

+ Tumblr for popularizing the GIF loop.  

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Facebook: Get In To Get Out

Facebook’s mission is distraction rather than connection.

People log in to Facebook and forget why they visited in the first place.  The whole experience is a complete time suck.

The real value in a social network is in its utility.  For the most part, people wander into Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr seeking information (world news, inspiration, and tips) that they can actually use.

Facebook excels in providing a sticky environment for wasting time, turning users into lemmings.  It woos the mindless by seemingly curing boredom.

Why even post, feeding the beast with more irrelevance?  Go in to scratch the itch and leave as soon as possible.

Facebook is a trap.  It wants to own everyone’s free time.

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Tumblr’s Security Flaw and the Inevitable Downfall of Your Password

if one of your passwords—and you should have many—hasn’t already been stolen, one will be. It doesn’t matter how long it is, or how closely it resembles an indecipherable alien language; someone who is not you will eventually obtain it, and there is nothing you can do about it. Some company that you exchange information with is going to reveal your password to someone else.

It’s time for fingerprint identification, not triple verification.