I became aware of the term tumblelog around a year ago and have been running across examples of tumblelogs with greater and greater frequency lately. According to Wikipedia, a tumblelog “is a variation of a blog, that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, this format is frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.” This site has a list of examples.

After circling around the concept for awhile, I set up a test tumblelog for myself using the Tumblr service. Here are my impressions of tumblelogging generally and Tumblr specifically:

Things I Like

(1) The interface is dead simple and slick. As you’ll see from the screenshot below, all you do is click on the content type you want to post and your off.


(2) Being able to categorize your posts by content types makes a lot of sense. In blogging, you are trapped a bit in the title/post format. Tumblelogs recognize that sometimes all you want to do is post a photo or a link that doesn’t need to be categorized or have a title (you can post in a traditional blog format if you want to). I also like how tumblelogs format the different types of posts slightly differently.

(3) Tumblr makes it really easy to simply import your del.icio.us links, Flickr photos, your Facebook status, essentially any RSS feed you want. So you can easily aggregate all your activity in one place and update your site without ever going to the Tumblr administrative tool. You can do this with a regular blog, but this is pretty much Tumblr’s sole focus.

(4) Tumblr features a slick bookmarklet that makes it very simple to post snippets of text/photos/video directly from your browser. See screenshot below.


(5) I just like the way tumblelogs look and flow.

Things I Don’t Like

(1) There is no way to add comments to your posts, at least in Tumblr.

(2) I think the lack of titles and structure could make tumblelogs confusing to people not familiar with them.

(3) Tumblr is great, but it is currently a hosted service. For people looking for an open source solution a la WordPress for blogging, there aren’t a lot of great options. Gelato CMS looks interesting, but I’m not sure how mature it is. You can also hack WordPress to make it function like a tumblelog, but that doesn’t seem ideal. I’d bet this sorts itself out in the next few months, with Gelato CMS becoming more popular and/or people developing more powerful tumblelog plugins for WordPress.

Bottom Line

I think there is a potentially huge market for tumblelogging among people currently trying to maintain personal blogs. The fact is, blogging requires too much of a time commitment for many of us trying to maintain personal website. I think the emphasis on posting of short bits of information instead of longer content pieces makes tumblelogging a really attractive option for lots of people who have tried and failed at personal blogging.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.