Self Expression Matters

Erick at Techcrunch sent me this chart yesterday and asked me why Tumblr was growing so fast. I guess it was related to this post he wrote about Tumblr yesterday.


I told him I had no idea but I could make an observation. My daughter came home from college on thursday night and showed me all of her friend's Tumblrs. All the cool kids have them at her school now. Had nothing to do with me. I can assure you of that.

They use Facebook as a utility. They check Facebook when they wake up and check it before they go to bed. But their profile on Facebook looks just like everyone's profile.

A Tumblr is self expression. Jessica's looks different than Emily's, mine and the Gotham Gal's. That's powerful. And that is what I think is driving Tumblr's popularity. Self expression matters.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    self expression is one facet. Others include:1. minuscule barriers to adoption2. absolute simplicity to use3. adept use of following mechanics4. baked-in re-blogging echo chamberTumblr has the vibe of a hip NYC company. Could the same team with the same idea have pulled this off if they were based on the West Coast? I’m not sure.Would be curious to see how the growth in page views and unique users breaks down to those generated by Tumblr’s new marquee customers and those generated by ‘average joes’

    1. Philip J. Cortes

      Back in the 90’s, the magic of Geociites was that you could express yourself and affiliate yourself with their different communities. I thought Geocities was magical when I first joined in the late 1990’s – I was in middle school and we all had competing “No Doubt” (the band) websites.I think what Facebook did successfully is that it made the concept of having an online identity very accessible. IF I wasn’t ready or willing to have a Myspace page (because it was too complex, or seemed too advanced), Facebook enabled me to create an online identity on a standard, clean, template, easily.Props to tumblr for finding that middle ground where you can express yourself and your creativity, with very little work. I also think timing is a key element here….people are now able and willing to invest a little more time into having a more elaborate, personalized identity online.

      1. LIAD

        MySpace allowed and encouraged rampant self expression on profile pages – lets not forget how that turned out

        1. fredwilson

          david karp is very careful about how the community expresses itselfthat’s why tumblogs look so great

          1. LIAD

            I wasn’t being condescending I just cited myspace as an example that shows that there is more to tumblrs success than self expressionTumblr has complete CSS and HTML customisation thus I don’t think David can really enforce design constraints. I think Tumblr just has classier clientele

      2. fredwilson

        as an early investor in Geocities, i totally agree with what you are sayingGeocities begat MySpace which begat Facebook and now Tumblr

    2. Scott Barnett

      My 16 year old daughter and her friends all signed up – it appears to be the place they go to express themselves (as Fred mentioned) vs. Facebook which they use for day-to-day communication (e.g. what’s the math homework for tonight?). That demographic is exceptionally viral, which I bet is a main reason for the spike.

      1. fredwilson

        that’s it Scottyou are seeing the same thing i am

      2. Tereza

        I set up my blog on Tumblr, largely because of ease, but I’d actually already built a WordPress one that I didn’t use and had even spent money on setting up.I like that your Tumblog is ‘instantly pretty’.I like that it was so effortless to distribute what I say to my peeps via Twitter and FB. (they are the pipes, the Tumblog is the content).And I love getting positive messages that a new person hearted something I wrote or is not following me (e.g. “Woot! Love, Tumblrbot”) Makes me smile EVERY SINGLE TIME.Most of my friends are in my age cohort — 30’s to 40’s — and they tell me they love reading it and I tell them, Set one up!! It’s so easy! Then I’ll follow you!I like that on Tumblr, you can set up a page that does not look like you’re in the throes of an embarrassing mid-life crisis.I believe that, while there is somewhat of a hip urban vibe, it is in fact simply clean and nice. I believe they have the legs to make it in ‘fly over America’.I like nice. And Tumblr is nice.But hey, that’s just me.

        1. fredwilson

          there are no features on tumblr that can be used negativelydavid is very focused on making tumblr about positivity

          1. Tereza

            I think many people may not directly recognize that but experience the delight of it.I will be pleased to watch Tumblr keep true to that. Tumblr is the P&G of personal blogging — the quality play.We all want to be ourselves, but slightly better. That’s an unstoppable human instinct.I feel the same way for Honestly Now about asking questions about ourselves, in a safe and positive way. We are aspirational beasts. I’d love to see Tumblr have a ‘post a question’ and use a plug-in from HN for that.

        2. Scott Barnett

          So you don’t use WordPress at all now Tereza? I have a WordPress blog (which I must admit I have not been blogging in about 6 months, yet another problem), I hadn’t thought of converting it since mine is a bit more “corporate” in nature, but it sounds like you are enjoying it in that capacity (and about the same age-group as me). Is that so?

    3. Dave Pinsen

      1. and 2. are also true of Blogger. I’m not sure what 3. means, but 4. sounds on-target. Tumblr definitely has the hip vibe, which Blogger most assuredly does not have. I don’t think something needs to be NYC-based to have a hip vibe though. Instagram seems to have that vibe in spades and is based in SF.

  2. awaldstein

    Tumblr is a great way to chronicle life, timeline events and create a public stream to the open web. Kinda like a postcard to an extended family.I’ve been encouraging a number of small artisanal vineyards to adopt Tumblr as their conversation medium to their fans…like myself. Documenting the harvest and crush. Getting up close and personal to the wines we love and just connecting. Winemakers are farmers. They need a public notepad to share their notes on the craft. Tumblr could do that.Of course…new funding will start to address things like search. It’s hard to find stuff there.

    1. fredwilson

      tumblr’s search is weak. i use it all the time but i find it frustrating

  3. Mark Zohar

    Fred,I actually think it’s more than self-expression, though that’s certainly part of it. Unlike most social networks (DeviantArt excluded), Tumblr welcomes and celebrates the artist, the eclectic, the fetishist, the passionate non-conformer & provides us with a platform for self-expression and community. Some of the best alternative music sites on the Web are on Tumblr (shameless plug: check out my music Tumblog here: So are some of the best tattoo sites, graphic arts sites, photography sites, hobbyist sites, etc.In many ways, the growth of Tumblr into a huge global community, signals the growth of a burgeoning and passionate creative class of enthusiasts, artists and social commentators. To that end, it also signals a backlash against the staid sameness and MOR personality of social networks like Facebook. And, to quote a famous conformist, “that’s a good thing.”

    1. LIAD

      completely agree. I think NYC’s and Tumblr’s cultures are inherently intertwined

      1. fredwilson

        true, but there are millions of users in Japan, Brazil, Canada, and UK according to quantcast…so it may be representative of NYC’s culture (very much so) but it is an international phenomenon

        1. LIAD

          That’s what i meant. Tumblr is an online capsulation of the NYC brand.

        2. kirklove

          And Thailand.

      2. Pete Meehan

        Curious to know more.Interesting sub-culture thing at play here, and I’m not sensitive to it either way, but what is it that you are saying Liad/Fred?Are you sensing that as the NY vibe and appreciation for art is starting to gather momentum in the social media space? And that we might even rightfully expect more?I’m not sure you would go so far to say that the engineering side (head) of the eco-system in in the Valley, and the cultural side (heart) or “social” aspect is emerging from the East?I was almost finished this post when I quickly thought of all the “self-expression” that has emanated out of SF since the Hippie era and more. That wonderful non-conformist, counter-culture thing, Berkeley and all. It should been responsible for a lot of things online. But strangely, I’m struggling to count that effect. It’s not that tangible (hmmm… too much money and maths in the Bay Area and not enough heart?)For that matter, the North-West. Seattle certainly made a huge name for itself in music with the grunge movement. No question about that contribution to art and culture. But that too has not produced much in the way of social platforms that are rich in expression.What’s going on? Still curious.

        1. Pete Meehan

          Yeah, I’m replying to myself…I’m still wondering if anyone has a good innate sense of which parts of the country are responsible for what we eat when it comes to media, social or otherwise.

    2. fredwilson

      you and I are in total agreement and are saying the same thingyou just said it better than i did

  4. Tereza

    I think what we’re missing here is the power of being nice.Snarkiness offers immediate gratification but then you walk away with a slightly icky taste in your mouth.Tumblr seeks to delight, and it delivers.

    1. fredwilson

      tumblr doesn’t have native commentsi’ve debated that endlessly with himhe has a point

      1. Tereza

        My friend Lauren Porat, founder of Urban Interns, just started her tumblog, adeptly titled “This Is not a Mommy Blog” (LOL!)It did not have comments.I told her to go turn on comments, as you told me to turn on comments when i started my tumblog.I think to have comments as a default that opts-out is a scary thing. You have to dip into the pool at your pace.I am pretty damn confident but still was scared sh*tless to comment and scared to enable comments. i’m pretty sure i’m not an outlier.Adult women — in so far as Tumblr cares about this audience — need to be ‘invited’ or asked.So when someone says ‘hey I want to comment’ it’s a way of saying — the pool is warm! And they dive in, with their clothes on.

  5. Erin Newkirk

    Rich self expression + asymmetric social graph of Twitter = Tumblr.Interesting also that the non-technical friends I have (lots) prefer Tumblr to Twitter because Tumblr is a) richer in self expression which they express as “getting it” more AND b) they can follow what they are interested in (twitter) and escape from their real life (facebook)

    1. fredwilson

      there’s a reason we are investors in both of themease of use, asymmetric following, instant reblog/retweet are the moves you want to make

    2. Tereza

      You know Erin when I think about Tumblr I think about Red Stamp too. I see a core value of people being nice. Clean and streamlined. And delightful.These are values which stand the test of time.

      1. Erin Newkirk

        Thank you, Tereza. You just made my morning. Kindness, delight…definitely core values of RedStamp. I think I could say the same about Honestly, Now!

        1. Tereza

          Hugs! Love,TumblrBot

  6. Dan Ramsden

    Fred, you’re touching on a huge subject. Facebook is not self-expression, because it’s pre-styled and organized. It causes its users to conform to the Facebook cookie cutter. Times 500,000,000.There was an interesting article about this by Zadie Smith in the NYRB last week, it’s online, will have to find the link.

  7. kirklove

    Tumblr has won for me.I’ve pretty much abandoned Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. They just became rote and one-way (never really pushing stuff to me, despite how much I feed them).Tumblr on the other hand has led to amazing discoveries of art, culture, music, literature, news, not to mention several real friends in real life, including Karp himself. It’s an amazing community and company. Lightning in a bottle.Twitter is the media darling in your portfolio, but Tumblr is the one I’d bet on for the Grand Slam.

  8. David Noël

    Big big fan of Tumblr, no breaking news here and I concur with what Tereza and others have said.Looking back at more than 2 Tumblr years, my favorite thing about the service is the various personal and online relationships Tumblr has helped to me to form.It’s the people that make the service what it is. Karp & team are doing a fantastic job to enable that.

    1. fredwilson

      i think we met on tumblr davidand our tumblr connection led to some other important things too

      1. David Noël

        I wish Disqus would make it easier to go back to the very first comments because I think we actually ‘met’ right here in AVC back in 2006 but true; our common passion for music expressed through both your and my tumblelogs has certainly helped enforce the connection and I am glad Tumblr makes this possible.

    2. Tereza

      David, yours is one of quite a few Tumblr-originated friendships I am thrilled to have.Score! Love,Tumblrbot

      1. David Noël

        Same here, Tereza! Let’s make sure we don’t miss another opportunity to meet in person next time you’re in Berlin.

        1. Tereza


    3. aweissman

      dude, i met you via tumblr. only later did I meet Soundcloud and Alexander. ’nuff said

      1. daryn

        When I think of all the folks I’d love to work and spend more time with in the future – i’ve met so many of them via tumblr.(and that definitely includes you guys: andy, fred, david, tereza, and whitney.)

  9. Adrian Bye

    isn’t a huge amount of tumblr’s growth from porn?

    1. fredwilson

      Nope. See david karp’s comment on the business insider post yesterday. Theydon’t report any NSFW content to quantcast and NSFW content is a small % oftotal PVsHowever porn is allowed on Tumblr and much of it is highly artistic pornThat just emphasizes my point about self expression.

  10. Daniel Dessinger

    But why not What is it about tumblr that is more appealing?

    1. Davide Di Cillo is actually pretty limited if you look at the free account, nothing to do with the openness of self-hosted WordPress (but at that point you need some tech skills).

    2. fredwilson

      Try it and you will know

  11. Emmanuel Bellity

    It’s funny I spoke at a conference last month where Myspace presented some market research findings ( and it was also the way they positioned themselves ie Facebook is who you were, your friends from high school etc. and Myspace is who you want to be.I think the main reason of tumblr success is that it’s simply a well-designed, easy to use product. That also makes it viral because that’s the platform I recommend to anyone who wants to start a blog – knowing they will easily be able to use it and that it will look good.

  12. Tian Yang

    Wait, self-expression, isn’t that what created the disaster for MySpace and led to Facebook’s victory in the social media space?

    1. fredwilson

      Its like the Democrats and Republicans. The tide swings back and forth

  13. aweissman

    self expression plus social gestures plus design plus ease of use. pretty basic – yet powerful – formula

  14. Harry DeMott

    I really like this postTo me, Facebook is like Grand Central Station. Tons of people – most you don’t know and a few that you do – and occasionally you run into someone unexpected – but overall you come in and you get out. AS you say – there’s no self-expression.there’s very little I can do on Facebook that I can’t do elsewhere – but it does a good job of aggregating a bunch of stuff and people.So Tumblr is to the Wall and the status update what Foursquare is to Places – a far more fully formed version of a minimalist idea.Not a bad idea super serving users who want more than just basic functionality.

  15. William Mougayar

    This reminds me I have to update my Tumblr Note to self: Be more Self-Expressive!!!!!!

  16. William Carleton

    Fred, what you say resonates for me a point Jaron Lanier makes in his book, about the Facebook profile demanding that users reduce their personalities to categories. Good to hear a report that a new generation won’t stand for that.

  17. MarkUry

    I think Tumblr succeeds as an experience for two reasons. When you want to SHARE, it’s an easy blogging tool with better templates than WP. When you want to CONSUME, it’s Twitter-for-pictures.Both sides of the coin have simple innovations. Reblogging make sharing mindlessly easy—and so people do it more frequently than they might otherwise. And the dashboard makes consuming fun: you tap your arrow key and flip pages the way you might breeze through the photos in Vogue or Wallpaper.What I find fascinating, though, is how Tumblr succeeds as a business model (despite it having actually articulated one yet 😉 It epitomizes the new production/distribution/consumption cycle of media in one package.First, it replaces producers (ie. the Anna Wintours of the world) with communities. Any Clay Shirky or Umair Haque fan knows that communities are more efficient than employees in finding or doing stuff. Tumblr communities are like unpaid Conde Naste staffers on steroids. Second, it replaces distributors simply by creating an effortless and virtuous uploading cycle. The Tumblr machine is a 24/7 Hoover, sucking up beguiling photos of models, artist sketches, and animated gifs. And third, by doing one and two and making consuming easy (ie. the dashboard), it replaces both the old analogue magazine and the new, tortured iPad apps that Hearts and Naste keep producing.In other words, Tumblr is drinking Conde Naste’s milkshake. And Conde is helpless. They no longer own the ice cream.As for comparisons to Facebook and Twitter, there isn’t any. Facebook is (despite their bungling) a private network for sharing stuff. And Twitter, with its emphasis on text, is the newswire. But all three are great examples of platforms that made input and output mindlessly easy, and therefore attractive.

    1. andyidsinga

      Mark – thanks thats a helpful synopsis. I’ve been thinking about trying out tumblr for a while.

    2. andyidsinga

      follow on .. just digging around tumblr.. here’s a very cool feature JSON API .. so nice and easy to parse from almost anywhere. IMHO this takes self expression to new levels :)…

  18. Vik Bhaskaran

    Have you checked out

  19. Joe Lazarus

    I love Tumblr for many of the reasons discussed here. In particular, I think Tumblr’s success is driven by their focus on simple media sharing and the specific flavor of sel-expression those features foster. Most people don’t think they are interesting enough to write long-form, personal blog posts and they aren’t yet comfortable sharing intimate details of their lives with strangers. Tumblr allows for all sorts of uses, but what makes it approachable to many people is that your Tumblr need not focus on ‘you’, but rather on what you find interesting. Many Tumblrs don’t even mention the author’s name. The experience usually starts by simply sharing an interesting photo or video that caught your eye, a song you’ve been listening to, or a site you recently discovered, then connecting with people with shared tastes. It makes everyone seem interesting on some level through the media they share.

    1. Clyde Smith

      Not sure who to respond to here but you guys are making me want to dig into Tumblr a bit more. I’ve been messing around with a quotes blog,, but haven’t explored the social features. Thanks for being so clear about why Tumblr works for you folks. I’ll check it out some more.

  20. Melissa Thelemaque

    Clearly, I need to pay attention to Tumblr.

  21. Prokofy

    Yes, definitely the cool kids’ factor, my son went on there this summer.It seems another generation is starting to graduate to blogs — from World of Warcraft, Facebook (which they kill off in disgust at the inanity of their friends and the hostility of their friends’ friends [the biggest source of angst on FB I find] and of course incessant AIM.They hunt around to make blogs now that are less “busy” than Facebook.I suggest Typepad to my son — but he finds it too complicated even with his web savvy and also it will cost something.So I notice that @mitchkapor on Twitter is now switched over to Tumblr and suggest Tumblr, and he goes there *because it is simple and clean looking* and finds now the cool kids are going.Just to describe one train…Twitter and Facebook are supposed to convince us that blogs are now dead. We’re being lectured everywhere by the “thought leaders” that blogs are dead, the Internet is dead, mobile is king, etc. But…blogs aren’t dead.

  22. lushfun

    I just realize I don’t like tumblr, I tried it but this seems like a cross between blogger/facebook. Just have to play with it a bit more.

  23. ShanaC

    I love putting things on my tumblr- but honestly, the dash confuses me. I like following other people, but I almost wish I could categorize what I see- because I’m annoyed that content that I would like isn’t surfacing. The bookmarklet is a saving grace for me putting content up. Otherwise, I don’t think I would deal very well.

    1. leigh

      i love the dash (even though i find it a bit confusing too) bc it’s connected me with all these really strange and creative people/communities in Japan and Korea that I otherwise wouldn’t really know existed. It’s kinda like a little tumblr secret behind the scenes.

  24. paramendra

    You nailed it.

  25. awaldstein

    I’m late to the party as I just discovered this:…Been looking for a more coherent way to tie Tumblr to my other blogs. Maybe Disqus is the way.

  26. laurenporat

    I also think the massive proliferation of facebook and twitter have changed something in all of us – they’ve gotten us thinking in status updates. 500 million people now share random musings with friends in a way that human beings just didnt do five years ago. But a certain percentage of the time, you just want to write a little bit more than you can in a status update, and that’s what tumblr’s for. It’s a personal, public online diary.

  27. Dan Reich

    The tumblr crew or some other group of people should offer a service that let’s you create a printed book of your tumblog.What a great coffee table book(s) that would be.

  28. rlux

    If I didn’t already have a longstanding WordPress blog for my personal stuff, I’d seriously consider Tumblr. Between my current blog & Twitter, I’m pretty well covered on the personal expression area.I agree that for folks graduating from Facebook there’s a strong use case for Tumblr.

  29. Eric Leebow

    It matters in Tumblr, yet it’s not good for some sites in some ways, and that’s where creativity and expression matter a little and people have the willingness to express themselves more verbally as well as pictorially, and that’s Tumblr. It’s my thought that Tumblr is an improved version of MySpace, with more of a focus on connecting people through creativity than on music, which MySpace was originally all about… People spend more time absorbing content on Tumblr than anything else, so a little self-expression distraction is good. On the other hand, profile pages on traditional social networks (by traditional, meaning not focusing on “blogging” in a way), it’s not so good, even when it’s templates… People don’t have the patience. In theory, it looks nice and it could be fun to decorate a profile, yet the average person doesn’t like the changes from one profile to the next, and the contrasts in color and design. I surveyed and communicated with people about this over the past several years, and they don’t want to wait for a profile page to load on a networking site because of self expression and it confuses people and distracts more than getting the task done.

  30. J Nicholas Gross

    There’s nothing Tumblr is doing that could not be imitated easily with the FB interface. You could substitute “Tumblr” for Wall view, or as one of the profile tabs, and do effectively the same thing. In fact since FB is so good at copying proven useful features I predict we see something like it within the year.

    1. fredwilson

      They’ve copied all the other interesting social services. Why not copytumblr too? FB doesn’t have an original idea in its head and never has

      1. J Nicholas Gross

        I agree about FB – in fact I see that as the biggest threat to Tumblr’s long term survival

        1. leigh

          hum…don’t agree. the dynamic is totally different on tumblr. similar to how the community on twitter is also different than FB. Integrating Tumblr into FB stream is a totally different user experience which one should never discount (particularly when it comes to visuals and design in general)

      2. Pete Meehan

        haha – that gives me a giggle

      3. Steven Kane

        “I never stole a joke I didn’t like.” – Milton Berle

        1. fredwilson

          Don’t get me wrong. All’s fair in love and war (and comedy)Just wanted to call a spade a spade

  31. Tinyvox

    Your daughter should check out TinyVox if she has an iPhone !!!She can post audio to Tumblr instantly with it 🙂

  32. Tinyvox

    Additionally, i’d like to say that self-expression is a BIOLOGICAL imperative. it is necessary to the human condition. this is why repressive regimes dehumanize first through curtailing free expression – once humans give this up, slippery slope.We can’t have an authoritarian USA because American self-expression is in our DNA. Social media is our bulwark; the founding vision of the Internet remains true. The people are inspiring one another, and the mainstream media is losing its grip; things are looking up !!!

  33. alphaG77

    Fred,Forgive me if this has been asked already, but what was the change in May that changed their trajectory? If it were a spike, I’d think it would be as a result of PR/News article, but it goes flat till June and then curves up exponentially.

  34. David Gillespie

    I’ve been saying for a while (google Digital Strangelove) that te distance between a cave painting and a blog post may be thousands of years, but it’s largely the same motivation: story-telling and self-expression. The tools that make that easier are the ones that will win. And right now Tumblr is kicking goal after goal.

  35. leigh

    I was re-reading a bunch of posts I have written about Tumblr since i started using it (end of ’07). I know a lot of pple thought it was going to be a life streaming service and I see that lots of pple are using it as a blog platform – but to me Tumblr has been and will continue to be a feast for my creative side. As i say to people, you want to know how I think, go to my blog, or even Twitter, but you want to get an insight to who i am? My Tumblr site. Definitely.

  36. p90x

    Tumblr is great! I like that I can make my page look different from everyone elses

  37. tumblr5000

    I don’t know but I wish they’d give the christians a play in the directory already. In fact I’d like to see a centralized search feature to find more stuff on tumblr and as it is the directory is not cutting it. They have nacked you into little corners so as to disallow expression… I cannot put this person or that into this category for fear of being banned! Can you guess the expression that comes out of me knowing that?So let tumblr users categorize their tumblr in the /customize and put some umph into your search. Tumblr community as a whole would be a lot better off. Tumblr is it’s own internet but it has yet to realize that…

  38. jasongaylor

    Thanks for the good news.

  39. awaldstein

    Tumblr has a place for business, especially small ones.Social media is hard for companies…restaurants. Boutiques and on. Tumblr is a just a great way to grab snapshots of your self expression…in the kitchen, in the artists studio and share them out in your own stream.It’s cool in the way a photograph encapsulates a deep view of something. Limits create their own depth.

  40. fredwilson

    you need both, neither one winsmaybe tumblr is the new (and better) myspace

  41. David Semeria

    I was going to ask the same question. I think this is a really key issue for many web sites.

  42. whitneymcn

    I think that the dashboard and the “follow” model make the experience of using Tumblr qualitatively different from something like MySpace. The dashboard means that you’re getting a simple, clean interface, but one that’s focused almost entirely on the content offered by the people you’re following. Where Facebook gives you some space in which you can see your friends’ stuff (in amongst all the other stuff that Facebook wants you to see), Tumblr is entirely made of your friends’ stuff.The second piece is the follow model. For all I know the MySpace crowd is *already* on Tumblr, but in either case it doesn’t matter to me: I see the people I follow, and I don’t see anyone else. I define my own experience of Tumblr.As an example, just recently 4chan apparently tried to “teach Tumblr users a lesson” by creating fake accounts and posting goatse pictures or what-have-you, thus making Tumblr an unpleasant “place to be” or something. I guess it happened, but I really can’t say for sure: you see, for all intents and purposes it *didn’t* happen in the Tumblr that *I* use.Sure, everything cool will eventually fade and be replaced by a new cool thing, but I don’t think that Tumblr’s worry is that the uncool people will somehow wreck the experience.

  43. Prokofy

    Facebook isn’t clean anymore. It’s filled with huge lines of people endlessly updatingThe FB devs deliberately make it hard to go and edit your friends to shut them up or ratchet them down.The removed the old slider that enabled you to chose aspects of your friends you wanted to see and didn’t see — it’s gone.Now, you have to figure out to go up in the Account/edit friends section to remove a friend completely or shut up his time line completely — it’s not a one-click edit intuitively from the friends’ list you click on from the front page on the left. That’s a nuisance, and likely engineered to keep you from shutting up friends so that they can talk more, the social graph can be scraped more, and their collective chatter will produce more plugs for products, deliberately or accidently.Tumblr doesn’t have that timeline of friends coming in, just expression and comments.

  44. Matt A. Myers

    MySpace was horrible to navigate and ugly — especially all of those glittery-blink blinky auto-start music pages..Facebook’s value was they were good at getting all of your friends on around the same time; It’s not used for self-expression, and the utility is pretty limited IMHO.Tumblr allows you to express yourself in whatever means you want – and very easily. It also allows people to find you if you’re relevant to what they care about. You can also find other people with similar interests on it. Your friends can be on there or more so people who find what you have to say interesting will go there, and people want to be heard.

  45. CJ

    “import from myspace… ” – Please no… I think if Tumblr can remain clean AND custom they’ll continue their growth. If they get too far along the Myspace track then they’ll eventually flameout. I never had a Myspace because so many of the sites would crash my browser.

  46. fredwilson

    i wouldn’t take that comment too seriouslyi don’t mean that people will use tumblr the same way as myspacejust that self expression has a place on the social web

  47. David Noël

    Great comment, Whit, spot on!”I define my own experience of Tumblr.” Love it.

  48. kirklove

    Ditto, what David said. Absolute best way to describe Tumblr. Spot on x 2.

  49. fredwilson

    Great points. Particularly about the follow model hiding what you dont wantto see

  50. daryn

    The 4chan plan showed a complete lack of understanding of the tumblr community – both in characterization, and in the assumption that “1. follow people, 2. they’ll follow back, 3. bomb their dashboard” would work. I don’t know what typical follow/follower ratio is, but most of the people I know are pretty discriminate about who they follow – definitely more so than on twitter.I remember hearing David Karp talk about tumblr at web 2.0 a couple years ago, and one concept really stuck with me: ghost banning. I don’t know if it’s still in practice, but the idea was fascinating. Let trolls have their dashboard and post to their heart’s content, but make them invisible to everyone but their followers. Don’t give them the postive reinforcement of more followers, likes, and reblogs. Eventually, because community is such a big part of the tumblr experience, they’ll hopefully tire, and find something better to do with themselves.

  51. Prokofy

    Yes, it’s important to keep outing 4chan as not the cool kids, not the “progressives,” not the “revolutionaries” as so many of the old white hippies who ran 1.0 and 2.0 think of them fondly, but as geek shock troops, reactionary and conservative thugs that don’t want anyone to use the Internet for anything except what *they* think it should be used for, which is infantalism and porn.

  52. Seth Lieberman

    Funny- and true story about MySpace: profile “pimping”/customization was an accident. One of the original developers released code early on that allowed users to jam HTML into their pages and it rendered. It was a bug- and by the time the found the bug several hours later a bunch of users had run with it and the made it their own and it began to spread across the network. So they went with it and formalized the functionality- and personalization and expression become (along with music) *the* defining element of MySpace success.

  53. Clyde Smith

    You could have had lots of self-expression on MySpace without a lot of the junk that took over. The way they handled those issues set the stage for some of the junk.On the other hand, the time they came into existence also affected the forms of self expression, like little glittery stars following your every move and so forth. Some of that was indicative of the time because we were seeing that junk on lots of sites.Then again, one person’s junk is another person’s fantastically glittery eyeliner!Anyway, I agree with your basic points. I find Facebook sterile and restrictive. If there wasn’t a critical mass of users and a certain percentage of my friends on there, I wouldn’t bother with FB. And I don’t use it for business, since that would add an additional layer of sterility, because I don’t feel I’m at the stage where I can truly be myself and succeed in business. But I’m getting closer!

  54. Evan

    how many businesses are smart enough to get that?

  55. Prokofy

    I’m someone who exposes and opposes 4chan far more than either of you, but I don’t think the solution is to start ghosting out people, like Stalin edited out his enemies from photos where they once appeared.The follow/block concept works well enough. If you don’t like someone following you because they turn out to be a griefer with porn, you block them so they can’t follow you, and then don’t follow them. It’s not then “ghosting” them (if by that you mean making them no longer viewable by making posts lighter and lighter, or making any new viewers not see them or hiding them in search) or creating some “community ban that makes them invisible” but just selecting them out of your own stream, pure and simple. It’s important also that when you are blocked like that, while you can’t have the person conveniently in your stream, that they not be denied to your view in search. And that’s the beauty of Google and Twitter search — various thin-skinned freaks can block you, but Google and Twitter search still turn up their tweets that are public.Preventing powerful groups of geeks and influencers like yourselves from deciding who are “trolls” and who “needs to be blocked” is an extremely important effort on the Internet. Just because 4chan annoys you and any other normal person doesn’t mean that you should then band together to block everybody. It’s already ban enough that you close off comments on your own blogs out of fear of spam and channing; it’s already ban enough that Technorati is now completely closed to any but the most powerful and loyalist bloggers to search, even if registered, because of these fears and hatreds.I fought for months on this point with Steve Gillmor. He wanted to put “track follow ban” as a command into Twitter to enable people that replied to his tweets that he didn’t like to be automatically “disappeared” from his vanity-tracking of his own name.Once that concept spreads, you have both news media influencers and eventually government officials being able to edit out all the people’s feedback they don’t like, for whatever reason. And that leads to a totalitarian society, and is wrong. You have to think these things through.

  56. awaldstein

    Hi EvanUnderstanding and doing are two different things. Businesses get social but being social at the intersection of an offline business and an online presence is a leap. A big communications leap.It’s tough but I’ve been hiring some staff into some of my clients and that is starting to work.There are many younger generation winemakers though who are starting to jump on this. I recently met in Vienna with a number of millenial winemakers, some the 5th generation and they are getting this, especially the Tumblr as a notepad for a harvest. I don’t have yet but hope to have some examples of this by spring.Glad to discuss this in detail. The intersection of ebiz and community and the social web is a great area to look at.

  57. Evan

    I love the idea for winemakers. Seems like a no-brainer.Most of the time it seems to me like businesses expand mindlessly just to ‘be social’ instead of thinking how another channel of communication fits into their marketing plan.

  58. awaldstein

    I agree. Social is just one part of the whole…an important one though. But it’s not easy.Even though the buzz about social media is really noisy, it is the very beginning of small and medium-sized businesses starting to understand and use social effectively. Discovering community and how to genuinely make use of it is simple in some respects, very non trivial in other. Large brands. Network TV. They are doing alot of the innovation and rolling things out, especially on Facebook and especially in cool commerce apps like Disney’s group ticketing on their fan pages. Most companies are just getting started. Online businesses who for a decade worked to get the click and conversion to a science and now are figuring out how to connect with the person behind the click. Some recent thoughts on this that you might find interesting…

  59. Dave W Baldwin

    Read your thoughts…on the money.

  60. awaldstein


  61. Andrew Bartelt

    Not true. if you see a post from a “friend” that you want to silence just click the invisible x that becomes visible upon mouse over. it’s to the right of the post.

  62. Mark Essel

    Much of today’s content is ghosted simply by volume. Attention is rarer than available information, even high quality stuff is way beyond what I can keep up with. Your comment on search is a great one. Twitter only keeps tweets from the past week or so available. I need a deeper search on content wether it’s consumed in real time or browsed later (hopefully both options exist).

  63. Mark Essel

    Totally agree, except I’m not afraid of self promoting, it just doesn’t mean much. I can’t judge the social value of stuff I come up with beyond personal intrinsic value, other people need to respond, “yeah this is good”, “this is wrong and here’s why”. It’s that input that makes blogging ideas enormously valuable. Isolated ideas aren’t much good.Speaking of feedback, Arnold Waldstein just pointed me to a nice Disqus setup for Tumblogs.

  64. awaldstein

    Thnx Lance. Checking it out.