You're doing Tumblr wrong

…or was I? Some thoughts about looking at the bensinterests Tumblr in 2024.

A post for #WeblogPoMo2024.

Listen here, young feller-me-lad. Back in the glory days of the Internet it wasn’t all about social graphs and updoots. Content was content, hitcounts were nice to see go up, but who cared so long as everyone had fun?

That’s how I was using (and seeing) Tumblr at that time. It was a lightweight alternative to Wordpress where you could add some content (and specify what the content was!) and then just whack it in your own little place on the web. You had a URL with all your content nicely rendered in one place. Beautiful.

This was the world wide web.

There was some weird view when you logged into Tumblr where you could follow and see other people’s content. It was kinda confusing though and seemed a bit of an afterthought in how it was implemented so I never really investigated it.

How weird, then, trying to log into Tumblr to see my accounts now! The top level URL resolves to a feed of content from selected accounts like Facebook or Twitter. Clicking on individuals brings up a kind-of generic profile view rather than the nice custom-templated and considered website view that I’m used to. It’s a network rather than a blogging interface.

Did I use Tumblr in the wrong way? Did it flex or change over time1 or was this functionality always there?

Did I miss out?

Looking at the content that’s there right now the answer seems to be… no. I did not. One of the thoughts I’m exploring in this series of blogs is what sort of Internet home I want to maintain, what face I show to the world. I like bensinterests because it’s fun but it’s also neutral - there’s no controversy in the content (with a few exceptions) which is all just pointing out the fun parts of the world that I stumbled over. The Tumblr-as-network of today is not that at all, which I’m sure is fine for that audience but isn’t right for me.

I didn’t crave metrics, fame, what Tumblr now calls ‘notes’. I just liked a little Ben space, a stream of joy quietly occupying a bit of the web that’s rarely seen and certainly never publicised.

Moving to some kind of proper blog was the right thing to do. Not necessarily because I needed to post a different type of content, but because I needed somewhere which felt like home. Had I stayed on Tumblr until today, I’d feel like the grumpy old man in a block of flats that no-one knows is there who resents the kids making that damned noise all the day.

But people do move home occasionally. And where I am is not where I’ll always be.

  1. Beyond, y’know, being bought and sold half a dozen times to satisfy the corporate needs of an ever changing faceless overlord ↩︎