Microblogging, daydreaming and the rise of Tumblr
Yesterday National Public Radio’s Morning Edition aired a story on the burgeoning microblogging platform Tumblr. Reporter John Asante interviewed Mark Coatney, a Tumblr employee who helps major media organizations like The New York Times, Newsweek and the Huffington Post to launch their Tumblr sites. This signals to me that this platform might have a future.
It wasn’t until last December when I read “Finding a Use for Tumblr” in the New York Times tech blog Bits that the four-year old microblogging site piqued my interest. After all, like everyone else, I need to rein in how much I distract myself with the proliferation of ways to share on the Internet. In the Bits article Nick Bilton interviewed Brooklyn-based artist Nic Rad who wrote that Tumblr is for “daydreamers.” I see his point. For me, it is the best outlet for capturing a trove of what sparks my imagination – from cherished photos to whimsy including those inspirational quotes that tumble by my desk (such as the one below, which came as a footer in an email from the Yosemite Conservancy).
As of this writing, Tumblr hosts 20,944,319 blogs (over 47,000 new blogs since yesterday’s NPR story). According to the company’s website, they launched 4 years and 3 months ago out of their office in New York City.
In Asante’s NPR piece he also reported that in the last six months, the number of Tumblr bloggers has nearly tripled, making it as popular (if not more popular) than the eight-year old WordPress.com. I view this as an apples-to-oranges comparison since there are many self-hosted WordPress blogs out there – including the one you are reading right now. The services are free but if you want to run your own WordPress installation, you will need to pay for hosting.
I will admit that I am a bit taken with the ease of Tumblr, whose site boasts that it lets you “effortlessly share anything.” It is true. As they say, you can post text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos, from your desktop or mobile phone (the mobile app works pretty well and is easy to use too). Although you can customize colors and the theme’s design, I have kept mine pretty minimal.
Are nonprofits using Tumblr?
I know writers, artists, comedians, celebrities, media outlets and other businesses are using Tumblr. Take a look at Huffington Post’s Best Tumblr Blogs: 33 Tumblrs You NEED To Follow including The New Yorker Magazine and National Geographic Magazine. I’m not sure how many nonprofit organizations are using Tumblr, but here are a couple of examples:
- Robin Hood – The largest private poverty-fighting organization in New York City
- NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross