Review of a Digital Tool – Tumblr

Link To My Tumblr

This is a review of Tumblr for my Digital Humanities module DH:1002 Digital Tools and Methodologies. I have chosen to review Tumblr simply because I have used it for a personal use previously. I tried numerous times to use it for academic uses. In order to challenge myself I made a new blog for an academic use.  I have broken it in to three main parts – a quick review, comparison with other micro-blogging sites, and an evaluation . . . . .

Basic Facts.

  • Owned by Yahoo! Inc. since 2013
  • Url – http://www.tumblr.com
  • 35th on Alexa Ranking for internet web traffic
  • 217 million blogs
  • It’s free to use

Quick Review 

karp

Founded in 2007 by David Karp Tumblr is a micro-blogging social network site. The user interface allows users to post multimedia (images, audio, and video) onto their own blogs. Users can use HTML to edit the layout of their blog themes or create their own. Tumblr gives you the option to add custom CSS in order to edit aspects of a particular theme. For example you may edit a certain theme in order to allow a user to upload a GIF as their side bar image.

The layout of the home dashboard is simplistic and easy to use. Posts are shown downwards. When you post to Tumblr it allows you to add tags to your posts as well as tagging particular users. On the right side the dashboard allows you search the site and gives you recommended blogs. It also shows you a graph of your activity. This quickly allows you to see data on your most popular posts and new followers.

When you click into a users blog it shows a personalized webpage. In the ‘theme garden’ users can pick their own themes or again they can create their own theme via HTML. On the users webpage, marked by a personal address – e.g abcd123.tumblr.com, you can customize the look of your blog. You can have links to outside pages such as Twitter or links to internal data such as tagged posts. Most themes available in the theme garden give users the option to customize the background image and the layout of the theme. The amount of change you can perform depends on the theme itself and the amount of HTML and CSS the users know.

Other primary features on Tumblr include:

  1. The ability to queue posts for a certain date
  2. If a user searches for certain words (e.g suicide) a warning come up which displays links to other sites that may help as well as a phone number for suicide prevention hotline
  3. A user may also opt to use their own personal domain name
  4. Various users can, with permission, contribute to a certain blog. This allows collaboration between users

The Tumblr Mobile App

Tumblr has developed an app for smart phones and tablets which include the basic features of the parent website. Absent is the inclusion of personal themes. All users blogs looks the same in the application. Multiple problems have arisen within the Tumblr app. Most notable is the fact that many images and GIF sets don’t fully load. As a result users only see blank spaces.

How Can Tumblr Help With Individual Projects:

Tumblr can help with individual projects in various ways. As stated above the tagging and search features help’s one find information quickly and without hassle. One aspect that greatly helped me in past projects was the function which allowed users to respond to your individual questions on your post. This helps in numerous ways as it allows you to find answers and quickly get responses.

Going hand in hand with this is the ability to add comments to posted material. Due to the open nature of posts this is a good way to collaborate on a project. Simply re-blogging the new post and add a comment. For me this allows myself to engage in a debate with an other user over a particular issue. As well as forming a debate users could simply add relevant videos, links, or quotes to your post. One downside to this is that anyone can comment on your post. ‘Internet Trolls’ may want to ruin your post just for the sake of ruining it.

Comparison with Twitter and Facebook, another micro-blogging platform:

Name Multilingual Supports Multimedia Tags or Hashtags Ad Free
Tumblr Supports 13 Languages Yes Tags Yes
Twitter Supports 33 Languages Embedded Material Hashtags No
Facebook Supports 43 Languages Yes Hashtags No

Evaluation of Tumblr 

1. Gathering Information

This tools website as stated above is http://www.tumblr.com. I gathered information by utilising google scholar and various search engines such as duck duck go. Once I found sufficient information to aid me in my review I saved the links to Evernote. One particularly good article I found was one in the 3PM Journal of Digital Research & Publishing. The article was called Microblog Sensation: The Growing Popularity of Tumblr by Emily Marquart. Previous reviews and articles along with my own personal experience suggests that I can use Tumblr to get quick access to news pieces and opinions from a wide demographic. The tagging system allows you to reach a far bigger number of users and valuable opinions.

2. Maturity/Stability of the Tool

While researching for my review I didn’t find any illustrated roadmap. In various articles Tumblr founder David Karp referenced the said roadmap, but I failed to find the actual document due to the high volumes of information. In one podcast from Gigaom, Karp discusses his Roadmap conference and the design of Tumblr. From my use of Tumblr I have come to the conclusion that the site is stable. While looking at various user comments on line the actual website is seen as stable, but the mobile app (as seen above) is less than so. The mobile application seems to crash from time to time and a lot of the media besides text can’t be seen. As a result users are stuck seeing a loading icon over the image space.

3. Sustainability of the Tool.

Tumblr has been available since 2007 and since it’s introduction there has been a strong and loyal community backing it ever since. As of January 2015 Tumblr has experienced a user increase of 40%. Tumblr has integrated OpenSource elements since it’s introduction in 2007 but it is not one hundred percent open source. The data you put on your Tumblr blog can be exported to various other sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. WordPress allows you to export you entire blog. Facebook and Twitter will export text, images, and videos, all with a link to the original post on your blog. Apart from this users will have to save any other data such as graphs and images to their own desktop manually.

4. Sustainability of your Research.

Due to Tumblr’s easy to use interface I found it easy to use and navigate and control. I found the tag and search system an excellent way to gather information and get varied opinions. As well as this many academic blogs within the site contains high definition images and/or video clips and then their thesis argument below. The site relies on visuals and multimedia. For me and other learners who rely on visual elements Tumblr is an excellent resource to present and search for data. Through the tag and search system my data can be viewed by others. Users can add or subtract elements of my argument. Anyone can see my publication and review or more commonly verify my response to the original thesis statement.

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