Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

In Praise of Tumblr

Ray Drainville

You’d have to be living under a rock somewhere (or have a life outside of the Internet) if you haven’t heard about the “micro-blogging” platform Tumblr.

I think people call it a “micro-blogging” because posts on most people’s tumblelogs are pretty small: a picture or two, and a handful of words. But it doesn’t have to be: I could easily replace this blog with Tumblr & there would be little difference. It’s fully capable of handling short essays.

Apart from its ease of use, what sets Tumblr apart, really, is the community. There’s a fascinating, obsessive energy containing some wonderfully weird things, like “Selleck, Waterfall, Sandwich”, a tumblelog that shows picture combinations of those three things; that, and that only. They can make you see something in a radically different light, like the previously-praised Big Caption or “Space Trek”:

One of my favourites was “Three Frames”, which took (you guessed it) three frames of various movies, turned them into looped, animated GIFs and presented them to the viewer. Doubtless due to some misguided DMCA takedown, it was briefly offline, but is back! Again, it made you see something in a different way: how much, or little, a movie scene changes in three frames. The same author created Aloha Friday, from someone’s snapshot collection. An interesting chronicle of youth, it feels (to me) like some parallel world of my own early university years in Florida & as such evokes a curious pang of nostalgia, all the more peculiar because these pictures are not from my life.

I’ve seen them dismissively called “single-serving sites”, but I’m not aware of any rule stating that any given website has to be all things to all people. What I am aware of, however, is that browsing tumblelogs has taken up an increasing amount of my viewing. That’s rewarding.