I have recently hived off a few bits of posting that used to be in this blog to Tumblr, a startup that ValleyWag described as being, like Twitter, “unencumbered by revenue”. It’s been an interesting experience.
As this blog has become a bit more work-focussed and more formal I was feeling like writing about Doctor Who wasn’t quite the right thing to mix with the more esoteric tech stuff. I like WordPress a lot and I thought about starting up a second blog here. However I did feel that I wanted something that was a little bit lighter and light-hearted as the topics were going to be relatively trivial.
Signing up was easy (all very Web2.0: massive fonts, custom urls, etc.) but when I saw that you could use Markdown to write up posts rather than WSIWYG editors I was sold. Since I know it anyway it saves me a lot of time not frigging around with generated HTML. I also liked the AJAX UI that made it seem quite easy to just post a few thoughts.
In my mind Tumblr fits a kind of position between Twitter and WordPress. Where you have something to say that is more than a sentence but it isn’t a whole lot more than a paragraph. It is the kind of thing that Blogger should have become after it was clear that WordPress had completely whupped it on almost every front.
I have found Tumblr to be fun and also something that entices you into just jotting down a few thoughts. In terms of the experience it is all light, responsive and dynamic up front but you can dig around behind the scenes to take control of the visual aspects of your site via CSS and HTML (something that is paid for in WordPress) as well as get more options for posting.
So what do I miss from WordPress? Well the first thing is the Stats crack, obviously. WordPress has a killer feature in telling you exactly how many people are reading your articles and how they came to read them. There are also a lot of features that surround this like auto-promotion of articles to Google, the related articles list and the Blogs of the Day. Publishing something in WordPress feels like launching it into the world, by comparision Tumblr posts are a much more muted affair. It feels more like a secret club. I know Tumblr does the promotion as well but I guess WordPress does a better job of closing the feedback loop.
Not having comments on Tumblr is also part of that. Given that comments on your blog can be a very mixed bag I was surprised to find myself missing them. Somehow I must have gotten used to them and their lack now feels like silence. I know some people have used Intense Debate to add in comments but if I was really that bothered about it then I would probably have gone back to WordPress.
So I’m enjoying Tumblr but I am also hoping that they keep it simple and don’t get tempted to add every feature there is from other blogging software.