08 12 / 2013

Tumblr should take a photo of you and upload it directly to your blog at a random time every six months or so. This will allow us to more critically think about WHAT WE HAVE BECOME!
This is me this morning.

Tumblr should take a photo of you and upload it directly to your blog at a random time every six months or so. This will allow us to more critically think about WHAT WE HAVE BECOME!

This is me this morning.

02 6 / 2013

WARNING! YOUTUBE INSIDE BASEBALL BELOW! MORE CAT GIFS SOON!

Jason Calacanis, shown here, sold Weblogs Inc to AOL a long time ago and, since then, has been a bit of a Silicon Valley fixture.

Here in this video, he is complaining about YouTube giving his company a bunch of money of dollars that he will never have to pay back because they won’t play by his rules. I’m not saying that YouTube’s rules are great, and I don’t pretend to understand Jason’s business, but that’s crazy talk. 

Actually, I heard a lot of grumbling from non-YouTuber recipients of original channel funding. After they got their seven-figure checks they wondered loudly “Where is our promotion and marketing?!” “Why aren’t you selling better ads for us?!” "Why aren’t you treating us differently from the rest of YouTube?!" 

They got a million+ to launch a channel, the channels didn’t do well, and then they complained that it was YouTube’s fault for not supporting them more. 

As a guy who’s been making content on YouTube for a long-ass time, and a guy who has a lot of friends who have been working their asses off for years to get to the point where they can make enough to cover their rent on good months…this kind of entitlement makes me feel a bit of the rage. 

None of us ever got start-up funding. We didn’t get sidebar placement or free pre-rolls. We made content people liked, we strategized, we collaborated, we innovated, we tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed some more. 

I’ve always liked Jason’s ideas, I think he’s smart. I met him very briefly at an EDU conference and he kinda blew me away with some of his insight. But if he doesn’t think YouTube giving him free money is “an equitable relationship” because they don’t /also/ give him “distribution, promotion, and sales help”, then, well…maybe he should try saying that whole sentence out loud and seeing if he actually agrees with it.

This isn’t blanket defense of YouTube of course, I will call them out when I think they’re doing something wrong. For example, 45% /is/ starting to look like a really big cut, and they might want to start preemptively looking at decreasing that before people start grumbling more loudly. 

Especially as, apparently, Jason has inside information on Yahoo launching a YouTube competitor. And, y’know, since they own my second-favorite social platform now (this one) maybe that isn’t as crazy as it sounds. 

Though it does sound EXTREMELY crazy. 

06 4 / 2013

shoofle:

amblingantiscion:

edwardspoonhands:

image

I love Tumblr…big big love. And I like that you can like or reblog something without commenting on it, because, like, not everything needs commentary…not everything needs to be analyzed to be amplified.

But when I post original content (specifically blog posts or videos) I really like to…

Specifically, you said near the end of your post, “Is Tumblr … a place where you define yourself simply by the things that you like, and not by the things you say and think?”

In your post, you make claim that tumblr is great at facilitating a broader public discussion. I would contend to disagree with you, and lay claim that tumblr is actually one of the worst places for public discussion. Bear with me, I’ll come back to this point.

I think we (and the large part of everyone who is on tumblr) would agree that the benefits of the like/reblog system are very conducive for getting like-minded people behind a cause. However, this is not discussion. At its best, it is a rally cry. However, at its worst, it is an instrument to pander to and slap the shoulders of like-minded folk.

Now you might be saying, “But Ant! we’re having a debate about the presence of debate!” And you would be correct. This debate will never be seen, though, for three similar, but outstanding points:

  • It is natural to take the path of least resistance. If a blogger can safely ignore naysaying commentary in a social variant of Occam’s Razor, they will.  Why reblog what you do not immediately agree with? Why “like” what you do not agree with? Those that do seem to be the exception to the rule.
  • Tumblr’s dashboard is absolutely impenetrable when it comes to any sort of multi-way conversation. How many clicks does it take to display the reblogs or comments on a post? Who is responding to whom? If the discussion didn’t evolve from your own personal thread, then you will likely miss out on thousands of potential conversations, and the same points will get made at various points, and no one will be the wiser.
  • There are too many cat pictures and fandom cultures. By contrast, the Paris Review’s blog for poetry gets a couple hundred reblogs at best per post. Unless a work falls into one of the two prior categories, chances are it will go largely unseen.

I think Tumblr is good for many things, and is a decent facet for spreading agreeable or amusing ideas. The level, intensity, and ease of contribution, however, are not apt conditions for good discussion. That much is clear. But there is an implicit aversion to dissonance on tumblr, and I don’t think it is as all-inclusive as espoused. So I would give a resounding yes: Tumblr is a place to define yourself by what you like, but distilled by what other people like. In a culture immersed in positivity, you won’t find much else.

Tumblr is absolutely not made or optimized for discussions or back-and-forths - in fact, I’m pretty sure that a lot of design decisions were made specifically to make it a hostile environment for chatter, so that the focus would be on the content rather than on the culture surrounding it. However, culture, like life, finds a way. 

There hasn’t yet been a forum for internet discussions on topics that doesn’t suffer from some number of glaring flaws, especially when the community scales. It might actually be that this is less a flaw in the systems we’ve developed and more a flaw in how communities function - a limitation of human social skills.

Excellent points above.

This post has had like 500 reblogs, and most of them have had intelligent and thoughtful captions, and I will not read many of those things and I won’t respond to the vast majority of them.

But there are so many good points in the posts above, that I wanted to share them, and then this specific discussion gets to be a kind of new content, that people can think about and share if they think it’s cool. Instead of a discussion happening in the vastness of the YouTube comments or a bulletin board, it’s a kind of discussion-as-content, which I think is very cool (and is exactly what’s happening in a super meta way right now.)

I guess, beyond discussion, there’s an element of commentary beyond a binary “like/dsilike” or, in tumblr’s case, a ternary “reblog/like/no-action.” When we open up the quaternary system “reblog/like/no-action/caption” that fourth option is infinite…you can make a joke, have a thought, criticize  promote, be excited, compare…the action of “captioning” (or even putting a clever comment in the notes) frees us for so much more cultural discourse. 

We wouldn’t reblog things if we didn’t think /anyone/ would see them, and yes it’s a lot more work to come up with something “interesting” to say…but it’s worth it…for me anyway.

(via unshamefulness)

06 4 / 2013

image

I love Tumblr…big big love. And I like that you can like or reblog something without commenting on it, because, like, not everything needs commentary…not everything needs to be analyzed to be amplified.

But when I post original content (specifically blog posts or videos) I really like to know what people think about those things…and more than just the sliding scale of “how many notes did this get.” I want deeper information than that, and so I’m always diving into the notes to see what people say when they reblog stuff, but mostly, people don’t say anything. 

YouTube comments are great, but one of the things Tumblr is really great at is facilitating a broader public discussion. And I’m not saying people should go out of their way to comment on a reblog, nor am I saying that there aren’t often lots of good discussions, but I just dove down about 200 notes deep on this thing that I posted and didn’t see a single additional word associated with any reblogs.

Is Tumblr becoming (or has it always been) a place where you define yourself simply by the things that you like, and not by the things you say and think? I know some people aren’t comfortable sharing themselves like that, but it’s almost always worthwhile to say something if you have something to say.

I guess what I’m saying is that the internet is a two-way street…we are all creators…I don’t ever want to lose that.

27 7 / 2012

Tumblr: The Musical