Is Tumblr a Platform for Creation or Curation?

Tumblr is a microblogging platform that lets users upload content in the form of text, photos, GIFs, links, music, and videos.  Users can follow other users, and their feeds all appear neatly organized on their Dashboards.

tumblricons6789Tumblr makes it simple to create a blog—oftentimes just referred to as a “Tumblr” (his Tumblr, my Tumblr, etc.)—and users can upload content from pretty much anywhere, via a variety of means.  As the website says, “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything,” and the masses have shared, indeed.  As of the moment I type these words, Tumblr hosts 166 million blogs and more than 73.2 billion (BILLION!) posts.  An impressive feat for a site that’s about to turn seven years old.

What’s on Tumblr?

To the uninitiated, Tumblr is a site where users build collections of images that fit a particular theme.  And, no doubt, Tumblr has its fair share of blogs like that.  But there is so much more.  Tumblr allows users to connect over any shared interest, and with more than 166 million blogs, Tumblr can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find at least some of your interests represented.

Tumblr has fandoms that cater to every type of “shipper,” created by proudly and unapologetically obsessive fanboys and fangirls.  Tumblr has artists from every genre imaginable that upload their original works onto their blogs, which become a living portfolio of sorts.  Some of these artists have tens of millions of followers.  Tumblr has fashion blogs and news blogs, travel blogs and spiritual blogs, political blogs and relationship blogs, animal blogs and alien blogs.  And porn. Lots of it.  But, hey, it’s the Internet.  Just turn on your NSFW setting if you don’t want to venture into that part of the site.

victoria98765Who’s on Tumblr?

Anyone can have their own Tumblr, but the site has particularly taken the teenage demographic by storm. Ever since Mom and Grandpa and Aunt Peggy got on Facebook, teens have been leaving the site in hordes, or only post on it every once in a while to keep their family satisfied (or distracted). Teenagers started searching for a place where they’d be anonymous to the rest of the world, yet still be able to share their interests and thoughts and personal lives with their friends.  Enter Tumblr.

Now, you’ll find blogs filled with the expected angst and drama and immaturity (and porn) that you’d expect from millions of teenagers, but you’ll also find something beautiful: an entire generation of humans demanding equality and compassion.  The anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, anti-hate sentiment on Tumblr is pervasive and all-encompassing.  Everyone is encouraged to be themselves and let their freak flag fly.  Good on you, Tumblr teens.  There’s hope for the future after all.

How do you Tumblr?

The question remains: is Tumblr primarily used for creation or curation?  Well, the answer depends on who you ask.

Tumblr markets itself as a hub for creation.  Its tagline is “Follow the world’s creators.”  There are plenty of creators to follow on Tumblr: artists, musicians, photographers, writers, film-makers.  There are also Instagrammers and Viners.  Then there are also your regular bloggers, who publish their thoughts and pictures about anything and everything. In short, Tumblr has tons of content creators and no shortage of fresh content.

braziltumblrBut this can get overwhelming.  With millions of people creating new and amazing content every minute of every hour of every day, how do you organize and ingest it all?  Tumblr provides an elegant and simple solution: Reblog. Those who have niche interests pick and choose the best of the best of what they come across, and reblog the created content onto their curation blog.

Many of these curators, and there are millions of ‘em, will reblog and post hundreds of times per day.  The curators create microcosms that become a home for others who share the same interests.  Then, the not-so-hardcore Tumblr users can follow these curated blogs according to their interests, be it a person, animal, place, character, TV show, movie, musical genre, meme, idea, topic… anything.

The curators are just as important to the Internet as the creators, and to feature only one or the other can limit a site.  But Tumblr figured out the magic formula.  So, is Tumblr a place for creators or curators?  The answer is both.  And neither.  Tumblr is a place for everyone.

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