A Quick Guide to Blogging Tool Tumblr

This is the fourth post in a series I call A Quick Guide to Collaborative Media Tools (see bottom of this post for the other three). The purpose is to give a quick introduction to tools that are helpful when doing collaborative work. This post is about micro-blogging site Tumblr.

Tumblr.com is a light-weight blogging tool, perfect for posting texts that are too long to tweet but too short to write a “real” blog post on by using e.g. WordPress (not sure if Tumblr staff would agree with me here though…). The platform has more than 6 million users, as of July 2010 according to TechCrunch.

I have been following Tumblr with some interest for a few months now and I finally figured out how to use it in the context of MEDEA, both on a general level but also on a MEDEA project level.

General Level
On the general level, I use medeamalmo.tumblr.com to share links to academic articles, blog posts and events that are of relevance to our academic fields of inquiry. When MEDEA staff send a listserv email on a conference in Copenhagen, I put the same text on MEDEA’s Tumblr blog. When I see @pernillaseverso tweet about the media programme at the Australian university she’s currently tutoring at, I copy that link to MEDEA’s tumblr. These are texts that I don’t want to put on medea.mah.se because of the fact that they are too short; they are better off in a place of their own, just like micro-sharing a link is better done on twitter.com/medeamalmo than on medea.mah.se. So why not use Twitter only for the short stuff? Well, as I said previously, Tumblr is great platform for filling the space in-between short and long texts.

Project Level
Maintaining a “real” blog, like WordPress, is tiresome and has a steep learning curve that isn’t always easy to deal with. The learning curve of Tumblr is quite flat: write a title, write some text, insert some links, add optional tags and press publish and you’ll have a beautiful (and short) blog post that took you only five minutes to produce. Another bonus is that if you work in a team, you can have multiple contributors to one blog. One of MEDEA’s researchers, Michael Krona, is already using Tumblr as a platform to share his ideas on various dimensions of the global media industry from a critical perspective, see globalmedia.tumblr.com. Krona’s use of Tumblr proves that it can not only be used for short-form commenting or micro-sharing but also for full-length essay-style texts.

Also Elisabet Nilsson at MEDEA uses Tumblr, as a photo blog and to present the project she’s working on, see e.g. Exkursion Tokyo.

Tap into a network of “Tumblrers”
Being a Tumblrer is being part of the Tumblr network. On Tumblr, you follow blogs just like you follow people on Twitter. Following blogs on Tumblr isn’t mandatory but if you want people to discover and read what you write it’s a good idea to start following people that write on the same topics as you do. The posts from the people you follow show up on your dashboard that, basically, isn’t very different from the good ole Facebook Newsfeed. On the Tumblr dashboard, you can “like” (indicated by a heart) and re-blog – similar to Twitter’s re-tweet function – the content you find particularly interesting. Reading and posting to Tumblr can also be done through the Tumblr iPhone application.

Other Quick Guides
A Quick Guide to Social Bookmarking
A Quick Guide to Google Docs
A Quick Guide to Google Books and LibraryThing

Image credit: Joe by Ian Broyles CC:BY-NC-SA