Why Tumblr?

UPDATE 9/5: This turned out not to be such a good idea after all.

Greetings, new Tumblr followers! I know some of you found your way here via my friend Gina Trapani, who names me alongside such august bloggers as Steve Rubel, journalist Rick Sanchez, and Dan Patterson in a roster of recent Tumblr evangelists. She notes correctly that Steve and I made Tumblr our primary blogging platforms.

She explains she loves Tumblr for casual off-the-cuff blogging, but wouldn’t use it for posts she really cares about. She wants to be sure she can export her blog posts and take them with her, and she also wants to be sure that important blog posts have a permanent URL where they can be a nucleus of further discussion.

I admit that the points Gina raises bother me. But I moved to Tumblr anyway because:

I want to be read. Gina has more name-recognition than I do. Throughout my career, I’ve worked for bigger brands (currently The CMO Site, where I am editor in chief, previously InformationWeek and ComputerWorld). Those brands have lots of readers; me, personally, not so much.

My previous personal blogs had the virtues Gina cites. The content was exportable, and everything lived at a permanent URL.

Also, those blogs were only read by a few people.

I get far more readers here, by virtue of being plugged into the Tumblr community.

Tumblr is easy to use. It’s easy to post to, easy to follow people and be followed, easy to post content to Twitter and Facebook, easy to find and install an attractive design template.

It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax. Tumbleblogs work as standalone blogs OR as part of the Tumblr social network. So you get the virtues of Facebook and Wordpress combined into one. That’s very nifty, and I think accounts for a lot of Tumblr’s recent burst of popularity.

I don’t think I’m articulating this point well; I’ll have more to say about it another day (almost certainly on The CMO Site).

I don’t really care that much about archiving my content. I don’t see 99.9% of my blog posts as having a shelf life beyond a few days. I write ‘em, hopefully they get read and discussed, then I write something else.

In 13 years of on-again-off-again personal blogging, I can only think of one post — just one — that’s lost but I wish I’d saved; it was the post I wrote when I returned from my mother’s funeral in April 2000. Everything else is ephemeral, like tears in rain.

I write my longer posts offline, and save to my local hard drive. Like this blog post. (I wonder if that blog post about my mother is buried somewhere on my hard drive, transferred blindly through four or five generations of PCs.)

Also, to make sure people can find me wherever I go, I plan for my blog to always live at this domain, mitchwagner.com. So if I ditch Tumblr next year for the next hot thing, people will still be able to find me at the same domain.

That hasn’t always been the case. As a matter of fact, I just made this rule literally last week. Danny Sullivan suggested it; it’s a great idea. And I don’t think Danny would have made that suggestion if I weren’t here on Tumbler, because I don’t think he would have read my earlier post about search engine optimization if I’d posted it elsewhere.

So in conclusion: I like Gina a lot and admire her a great deal. But we disagree on this point.