Posts from Tumblr

Observations From Three Days Without Internet

We spent three days in Tuscany with old friends. We had a blast. The Gotham Gal batched up a bunch of blog posts and put them all up just now

The Gotham Gal used to do her travel blogging like that in "batch mode". Check out this post about our visit to Rome a few years ago. It covers four days or more in one post.

Nowadays we all travel with laptops. I even brought the iPad with us this trip. We do something and she blogs about it that same day. Like this visit to MAXXI, the new modern art museum in Rome. 

When you can share something you did right away, it is a lot easier to remember the details. And a post about a meal or a museum visit can be a lot more detailed than a post about four days in Rome.

I call that real time blogging and it is very much the way we do things these days. And in a strange twist, being without fixed Internet over the past three days limited how we could blog but also forced us to do more real time blogging. Check out my Tumblr, where I was posting photos from my blackberry. I could tweet too.

And we got seriously into Foursquare in Tuscany. My son must have checked into every store, restaurant, gelateria, and town we visited. It is so easy to do that. 

Real time blogging doesn't take any time to do. You snap a photo with your phone, if you like it, you upload it, and get back to seeing the sights and sounds of the town. You sit down to a lunch, checkin, and then open the menu and discuss the options with friends and family.

Even though it doesn't take any time to do, there are benefits of real time blogging, both for us and for those who care to follow our travels. For us, we have created an archive of the things we did and when we want to go back, we can search our archives and find them again. For those who care to follow our travels, there are tons of tips and advice on places to go and where to eat, shop, etc.

Services like Tumblr, Twitter, and Foursquare utilize the mobile phone to make real time blogging possible. It's quick and easy and you can leave a trail both for yourself and your friends and followers.

I did not really miss fixed Internet very much over the past three days and really enjoyed using the phone instead. Next time you go on a trip, try setting up a Tumblog and a Foursquare account, download the apps for your phone, and give it a try. I think you'll enjoy it as much as we did the past three days.


Social Status For Social Good

Status is a powerful motivator in social systems. People go crazy over their follower counts on Twitter, or number of friends or business contacts in Facebook and LinkedIn. So it makes sense that social status can be leveraged for social good.

Yesterday I logged into my Tumblr dashboard and saw this set of posts from my friends Jason and Dave, and my colleague Andrew.

Tumblr dashboard

You'll note that Dave and Andrew's avatars have a ribbon on them. I thought "well how the hell do I get one of those?"

And then I noticed at the top of my dashboard, the Tumblr logo had one of the ribbons next to it.

Tumblr logo

So I clicked on the ribbon and it took me to where I was presented with this choice of charities to support.

Support haiti

I chose Doctors Without Borders because my daughter Emily is a big fan of their work and gave a donation.

After I did that my avatar got a ribbon on it as you can see in the image above. 

I don't know how many Tumblr users got ribbons yesterday but it could be a lot. Tumblr has millions of users. Even if only 5 or 10% of them did what I did yesterday, that could be hundreds of thousands of donations. Maybe Tumblr will post about this at some point. I'd certainly be interested to know how well this works.

In a post on the Zynga blog yesterday, Zynga announced that their users have already raised $1.2mm for Haiti though the Sweet Seeds offer in Farmville. And now Zynga is going to step it up:

Zynga will run a special relief campaign in three of its top games that reach over 40 million users daily. Users can purchase limited edition social goods in FarmVilleMafia Wars and Zynga Poker, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards supporting emergency aid in Haiti. 

Social services like Zynga and Tumblr reach millions of people every day. And they have powerful status driven systems that can drive users to do good things. That's a big deal when something awful like the earthquake in Haiti happens.

Disclosure: Tumblr and Zynga are both Union Square Ventures portfolio companies.

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Open APIs and Open Standards

As Dave Winer has been pointing out in recent weeks, there is something quite interesting happening in the blogging/microblogging world.

First WordPress allowed posting and reading wordpress blogs via the Twitter API.

Then yesterday our portfolio company Tumblr did the same.

John Borthwick has been advising companies for a while now to build APIs that mimic the Twitter API. His reasoning is that if your API look and feels similar to the Twitter API then third party developers will have an easier time adopting it and building to it. Makes sense to me.

But what WordPress and Tumblr have done is a step farther than mimicing the API. They have effectively usurped it for their own blogging platforms. In the case of Tumblr, they are even replicating key pieces of their functionality in it, as Marco describes:

The really cool thing – because our following models follow a lot of
the same principles, we’ve been able to take advantage of a ton of
native features:

  • Retweeting = Reblogging
  • Replying = Reblogging w/ commentary
  • Favoriting = Liking
  • “@david” = ””
  • Conversations = Reblogs

And as Dave Winer points out, this effectively creates a standard that third party clients can adopt. And Dave ends his post with this highly provocative thought:

If Facebook were to implement the Twitter API that would be it. We'd have another FTP or HTTP or RSS.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this and the implications of it. And I'm not writing here in my capacity as an investor in Twitter and Tumblr or a board member of Twitter. I just think its fascinating and worthy of discussion in this community. So let's get on with it.

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A Great Systems Engineer Job/Challenge In NYC

How would you like to lead the scaling efforts of a website that is currently serving 17mm unique visitors a month and growing 40-50% per quarter?

That website is Tumblr and here are the stats I just mentioned. Quantcast has it as the 329th most visited website in the US and at the rate it is growing, it may well be top 100 in the not too distant future.

I believe this is one of the most interesting web service scaling challenges in NYC right now and should be a great opportunity for the right person.

Here is the job description/job spec and it includes a link to submit a resume if you think this job is for you. And if the job is not for you, but you know someone who you think is ideally suited to this challenge, please send me an email (click on the contact link on the upper right of this blog).

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