What’s nice about Tumblr at this moment is what was nice about Twitter in mid-2007:
There’s a neat sense of community among those of us on Tumblr at this very early stage (well, it’s been around since 2007 but only recently has it started to take off). There’s only a handful of journalists on Tumblr who seriously use it for everyday purposes, and most of us know each other (for instance, I know soupsoup, rubenfeld, pantslessprogressive, apsies and a few others — and most of them know each other, and most of the larger networks on Tumblr like ABC World News and NBC Local follow us as well). And as long as you’re willing to contribute to the conversation in a serious way, we’re very accepting of new people with interesting, independent voices, ideas and perspectives.
I dread the day that the social marketers (sorry, “social media experts”) take over Tumblr and ruin this nice sense of community as they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook. I guess we’ll all go to Posterous then.
I’ve noticed the same thing with Twitter. There was a serious sense of diminishing returns with that site, and it seemed clear around early 2010. It was easy to find cool people when I started the blog in 2009. Now, it’s just impossible to have a cool conversation with people because everyone’s trying to advertise themselves rather than do cool things. That’s why Tumblr’s been such a great outlet – it works better as a conversation than a promotional tool. If you just throw links on Tumblr, you’re doing it wrong. But with Twitter, it just feels like you’re seeing more broadcasting than conversation, which is a shame, because it’s the conversation that made it worthwhile. With Tumblr, that sort of low-barrier entry just doesn’t work very well.