Where Does Tumblr Fit in? [en]

[fr] Tumblr est un outil génial pour rassembler et republier les choses sympa que l'on trouve en ligne, agrémenté d'un réseau social à la Twitter (non-réciproque) qui nous permet de suivre sans difficultés les publications des personnes qui nous intéressent.

Last night on the way home, I was telling a friend about Tumblr. I have a blog there, Digital Crumble, and really really like using it. Many of my friends do not use Tumblr, and I realize that some explaining is not useless.

Tumblr is great as a scrapbook (scrapblog!) of content seen online. Not to say it can’t be used for original content, but that’s not where it shines (in my opinion) and I personally hardly ever put original content in Digital Crumble.

For me, Tumblr is somewhere between Twitter, Buzz, and WordPress.

One reason many people do not get Tumblr is that until you get an account, you do not know about the dashboard. The dashboard is the Tumblr equivalent to the Twitter stream. It is a neverending page of posts by people you have chosen to follow. That’s the big difference between Tumblr as a blogging tool and WordPress: Tumblr is really built around the following/being followed dynamic of Twitter and Buzz.

Here are two zoomed-out shots of parts of my dashboard page so you can see what it looks like:

Tumblr Dashboard Tumblr Dashboard

Two things make Tumblr great for collecting non-original content:

  • the “reblog” button on each post in the dashboard
  • the bookmarklet.

If you’re familiar with Twitter, the “reblog” button is like Twitter’s “retweet” button (but the Tumblr reblog button was there way before Twitter’s retweet one). See something you like in your dashboard? You can “like” it, of course, but in a click of the mouse you can reblog it, publishing it to your tumblelog and pushing it along to your followers. A lot of the content in Tumblr is visual (photographs, design, videos…) — which is pretty cool.

When you stumble upon something interesting online, you can hit the Tumblr bookmarklet, and a pop-up window allowing you to instantly publish what you’ve found to your tumblelog appears. Tumblr makes a guess as to the nature of the content, too: video, link, quote, photo. Hit publish, and get on with your browsing. Tumblr takes care of the rest — including a link to the original source.

Share on Tumblr

A lot of the things I post to Digital Crumble come from the people I’m following on Tumblr. Aside from that, I also reblog a lot of quotes from things I read online. If I’m reading something interesting, I have just to highlight the paragraph I want to save/quote, hit the bookmarklet, hit publish, and it’s on Digital Crumble. Let’s say it’s the web 2.0 equivalent of when I was a student and painstakingly copied out quotes and paragraphs from books I was reading into a small notebook. 😉 (Here’s an example of a recent quote I captured like that.)

What makes this all the more precious is that you can afterwards easily search through your Tumblr Dashboard or your own postings to bring up snippets you’ve saved. When I’m doing online research for a blog post or article, I’ll stick all the interesting snippets in Tumblr, which means I then have them handy (with link to the source!) when I’m writing up.

Finally, what I like about Tumblr is the playfulness of the community. It’s fun. It doesn’t feel too serious, or like the geek/intelligentsia quarters. I think that for non-bloggers who do spend time online reading and browsing without feeling the urge to crank out pages and pages of original writing, it’s a great publication platform to start with.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

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