Maria Isabel Maquinto – 11173390
New media has been constantly developing throughout the years. From the emergence of hypertext fiction, to the widespread use of social networks and other online platforms, new media has given its users a more personal form of expression and creative freedom as opposed to other types of media. Unlike television, for example, wherein the audience simply absorbs every thing and offers one-way interaction only, new media encourages user and audience interaction, or two-way interaction.
From Blogging to Microblogging
One type of new media that is popular, especially among the youth, is blogging. Blogging in colloquial terms is a means for a user to express whatever he/she wants through a blogging platform.
What is a blog? There are many definitions for it:
“A weblog is a hierarchy of text, images, media objects and data, arranged chronologically, that can be viewed in an HTML browser.” (Winer, 2003)
“A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.” (marketingterms.com)
“A blog is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order…A blog comprises text, hypertext, images, and links to other web pages and to video, audio and other files)…Often blogs focus on a particular “area of interest”, such as Washington, D.C.’s political goings-on. Some discuss personal experiences.” (Wikipedia)
In short, a blog is a compilation of text, images, links, video, audio, etc. that are hosted in a blogging platform, arranged in chronological or reverse-chronological order. It is also updated from time to time, hence ‘Weblog’ as to ‘log the web’. Blogging is referred to as the process of creating and updating a blog, whether it is for personal, commercial, business or political use.
The first blog began in 1994 when Justin Hall created http://www.links.net, which was not considered a blog during that time and was referred to as his ‘homepage’. In 1997, Jorn Barger conceived the term ‘weblog’ from his blog, ‘Robot Wisdom’, as a term for
the “process of logging the web” (Chapman, 2011). It was however, Peter Merholz who trimmed the term ‘weblog’ into ‘blog’ in 1999.
The first few blogs were linked into a homepage or archive and were updated manually. There were no personalized blogging platforms, until LiveJournal and Blogger were created. The early 2000s sparked the growth of blogging. It was used for different purposes: as a guide to making/writing a blog (metablog), as a means to talk about political issues, as a means to talk about current news and topics, opinions, and so on and so forth.
During this period, other blogging platforms such as WordPress, Movable Type, TypePad, Technorati, Audioblogger and YouTube, among many others also emerged. Blogging platforms are not limited to text per se. Some blogging platforms lean towards video and audio, such as Audioblogger and YouTube.
As blogging grows bigger throughout the years, a new kind of platform was developed based on it. It is called ‘microblogging’, which stands for ‘short-form blog’. Microblogging platforms are similar to blogging platforms. However, what makes it different is that it incorporated social networking features and combined it with basic blogging features. This paved the way to one of the most successful and interactive microblogs created: Tumblr.
Tumblr is a microblog that began in 2007 and was founded by David Karp. It offers many different features that make it standout compared to other microblogs, and was quickly picked up by different users from all over the world. Within 4 years, Tumblr was able to grow exponentially.
It is free to set up a Tumblr account. A person just needs to input his/her email address, password, and a chosen URL name for his/her Tumblr account (for example: http://whateveryouwant.tumblr.com/), as long as the URL name is not yet taken. Plus, the site does not have any ads at all.
Tumblr also offers users the choice to have their own custom domain (www.customname.com), although users would have to pay in order to have a custom domain.
Users can post texts, photos, quotes, links, audio, video, and chat/dialogue on their Tumblr accounts. Photosets are also a feature, in which several photos are compiled and can be viewed like a photo book. Users are also able to post captions in their photos or combine photos and text in one post. It all depends on the creativity of the user. There is also a ‘queue’ feature in which users can set the posting time and frequency of their queued posts automatically, without having to post and update manually.
Generally, all Tumblr posts are viewed as public, which means Tumblr pages can be viewed even if the viewer does not have a Tumblr account. However, the user can adjust the setting to make a post private, which can be considered as an ‘online diary’ feature.
Following & Followers
Tumblr users can choose to ‘Follow’ other Tumblr accounts, much like ‘add as a friend’ feature on social networking sites, or ‘Follow’ on Twitter. Following other accounts is not “mutual” in a sense (for example: User A can follow User B, but User B can choose not to follow User A). Accounts that a user follows and his/her followers are also viewable. Updates of those accounts that a user chooses to follow will be seen through the ‘Dashboard’, much like the ‘Newsfeed’ on Facebook.
A ‘user can ‘reblog’ another user’s post. The reblogged post will then be visible and included in another user’s account or Tumblr page. It is also traceable to see the users and the number of users who reblogged another user’s post, their comments and how many people ‘like’ the post.
The ‘Submit’ feature enables users to literally submit content to another user’s Tumblr page. Usually Tumblr sites that collect photographs, videos, text, etc. within a certain theme (i.e. dogs) enable this feature on their page.
Ask, Comment, Like
Tumblr has an ‘Ask’ feature, in which other users can ask other users anything. Users have the option to publish the ‘Ask’ link through the ‘Dashboard’, include the link on their Tumblr page, or to not enable the feature at all. Adding comments are also possible to other Tumblr posts, and again, users have the option to enable or disable this feature. Liking posts (similar to Facebook) is also another feature, and users can manage all their liked posts within the ‘Dashboard’, as well as the user’s own posts.
Themes & Customization
Users have hundreds of pre-made themes to choose from in Tumblr. Most of them are free, although there are paid themes as well. However, some users like to customize and create their own themes. This is highly possible, since Tumblr allows its users to customize everything in their Tumblr page, whether it be the theme, the format, link buttons, mouse pointer, etc. Anything can be customized in a user’s Tumblr page.
3rd Party Apps
Tumblr can be linked and synchronized to other applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram, among many others. It also has its own mobile app in which users can update their Tumblr accounts while on the go. It can also be linked via email.
Having said all of the main features of Tumblr, it is safe to say that Tumblr is highly interactive in a sense that it allows user and audience interaction. In fact, the users are an audience at the same time, wherein as users, they have the power and creativity to do anything they want and at the same time, they are an audience as they can view and react to the posts of other users.
Users have the power to create and post original work, feature another user’s post in their own page and customize everything. There is absolute freedom to what a user can do with Tumblr, as it also drives the creativity of its users. Some users actually make their own Tumblr accounts as a means for them to earn money. Although ads are not present in Tumblr, users can encode and link ads to their Tumblr page to earn money (especially if their page acquires a lot of views), aside from posting their own work and offering paid commission through order requests.
Furthermore, Tumblr can be considered personal as well, much like any other blog. Privacy is not an issue since users have the option to manage the view settings of their posts. Some users treat Tumblr as a ‘safe haven’ for them to spill anything they want. Others treat their Tumblr accounts as a scrapbook or a collection of photos, etc. (reblogged or original post) that allows the viewers to have an idea about the personality of the user. As David Karp says, “Tumblelogs don’t need all the context of written post. The context is the blog itself, or the person writing it.”
This is what is great about Tumblr. It is a good combination of a blog and a social network: it can be personal, and it can be otherwise. It’s an interactive media space that allows people to connect and interact with each other. Users are given the choice to accept or reject anything within this interactive media space, in which other forms of media do not allow. Moreover, users have the power within themselves, as creators or producers of ideas and other work, and at the same time interact with others as the role of a viewer, all within the context of mass communication theory.
Samples of Tumblr pages:
David Karp, CEO and founder of Tumblr (http://www.davidslog.com/)
Tricia Gosingtian, fashion and photography blogger (http://blog.triciagosingtian.com/)
Vladimir Jocson, creative artist (http://theblackblogofjv.tumblr.com/)
Lucy Anh Doan, creative artist (http://happymonsters.tumblr.com/)
C.B. Cebulski, food blogger (http://www.eataku.com/)
Nic Rad, photographer and creative artist (http://nic-rad.tumblr.com/)
To Write Love On Her Arms, non-profit movement (http://twloha.tumblr.com/)
Anonymous, group of photographers (http://tumblr.photojojo.com/)
Darla, blogger and Tumblr theme designer (http://mcseedy.tumblr.com/)
Personal experience as a Tumblr user
McQuail, D. (2000). McQuail’s mass communication theory 4th edition. Thousand Oaks: C.A.: Sage Publications.