What Is Tumblr?

What you're about to read can only be fairly categorized as a technoerotic thriller.

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Greetings, old-timer. In light of the recent Yahoo-buys-Tumblr news, my overlords at TIME have asked me to put together a guide of sorts explaining what Tumblr is. A Tumblr for Dummies, if you will. (Note: there is an actual Tumblr for Dummies book already. I did not write it.)

If you’re a regular reader here at TIME Tech, you can skip this post entirely, as you already know what Tumblr is. For the rest of you, make sure your Depend elastic-leg undergarments are cinched really, really tightly, because what you’re about to read can only be fairly categorized as a technoerotic thriller. Let’s begin.

What is Tumblr?

Before there was social networking, there were blogs. And in an effort to muddle things, at one point in time the concept of blogging without trying too hard became known as microblogging. Tumblr is part microblogging, part social networking.

If you want to write a several-thousand-word opus about something, Tumblr isn’t the place to do it. If you want to share a moving picture of a little kid acting like a detective as quickly and easily as possible, Tumblr is a good place to do it. That’s the microblogging aspect to Tumblr. Then, other Tumblr users who like moving pictures of little kids acting like detectives can follow you on Tumblr so they’re sure to see every moving little-kid-acting-like-a-detective picture you post. That’s the social networking aspect to Tumblr.

For very little information about what Tumblr does, visit the main page of Tumblr.com. For more information, visit Tumblr’s About page, which says:

Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything.

Post text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, e-mail or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors to your theme’s HTML.

Why is the E in Tumblr missing?

tumblr

Tumblr

Yes, it’s very unprofessional.

For a website to try to convince people that it’s cool, sometimes it will drop a random vowel from its name. You’ll notice the Tumblr logo also has a cool period at the end, as though you’re supposed to say it, drop whichever microphone you’re holding and walk off stage.

Related: we considered calling our site “TIM.” for a while but focus-group testing only revealed that when we said our name, guys named Tim would look up from the table. Very little else happened, so we stuck with TIME.

It’s interesting to note that Yahoo bought a picture-sharing service called Flickr a while back. You’ll notice that Flickr and Tumblr each have six letters in their name and both opted to drop the second vowel. COINCIDENCE? Maybe. But consider what happens if you add the numerical equivalent of the letters of Flickr together and the numerical equivalent of the letters of Tumblr together (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.):

F+l+i+c+k+r: 6+9+3+11+18 = 47

T+u+m+b+l+r: 20+21+13+2+12+18 = 86

The 47th state to enter our great union was New Mexico. “Eighty-six” is a slang term used when you want to get rid of something. I’m not saying Yahoo wants to eighty-six New Mexico, but I’m not not saying it. And Yahoo’s stance is that it has no comment (I assume) about its plans as they pertain to New Mexico. Still, it’s all very fishy when you take a step back and look at the numbers — especially considering the Flickr one doesn’t even use the correct numbers.

Can Tumblr make Yahoo cool again?

You may notice this question being asked several different ways on the Internet over the next few days. The answer is no. An easy way to remember this is like so: if a tech company turns a healthy profit and/or has public shareholders, it can never be cool. Cool tech companies make little or no money and then get bought by uncool tech companies. This is what just happened to Tumblr. Yahoo buying Tumblr merely makes Tumblr uncool — not the other way around.

Time for a break

At this point in the article, you’ll probably want to make sure you’ve taken your most recent dose of blood-pressure medication. Things have gotten exciting, huh? You may also find it helpful to stand up for a moment or two for circulation’s sake.

How big is Tumblr?

Tumblr currently boasts 108.4 million blogs with 50.9 billion posts. The company reportedly employs around 175 people, many of whom are about to buy nice cars.

Who runs Tumblr?

A 26-year-old named David Karp. Karp was born in 1986. Again, add the numerical equivalent of the letters of Tumblr together, and you get 86. If you don’t think something weird is going on by now, you accidentally doubled your dose of blood-pressure medication earlier.

How would Tumblr change under Yahoo ownership?

I think current Tumblr users would hope that it wouldn’t change at all. I can tell you that the extent of my recent experience with Yahoo is that Yahoo will allow me to completely rearrange my lineup for my fantasy football team, and then when I go to hit Save, Yahoo asks me for my password. It’s like I’m halfway logged in at all times. So at the very least, I’d assume that you would type out an entire Tumblr post and then when you go to publish it, you’ll be prompted for your password.

Doesn’t Yahoo already have a perfectly good website service in GeoCities?

You may want to sit down for this. If you’re already sitting, press the button on your lift-chair recliner until you’re upright, then press the opposite button until you’re back in a seated position (the entire process should take around 15 minutes). Yahoo “retired GeoCities to Florida” in 2009, if you catch my drift. Every death, however, brings with it the hopefulness of new life. Perhaps that new life is Tumblr.

52 comments
vintagefog
vintagefog

Wow! When did people start taking themselves so seriously, becoming so touchy and easily offended? I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour in this article! Not only was it funny and entertaining but it also fulfilled its brief and imparted the required information. And guess what - I am only in my forties but I wear depends and take blood pressure medication and I still totally appreciated the writer's ability in taking what could have been a dry and boring article and instead infusing a little humour to make it much more palatable! Keep up the good work Doug and thanks for an interesting and informative piece of information.

purplehaze
purplehaze

No reason to be a smart*.  Nice way to keep people from reading you in the future.

RonaldH.Fontes
RonaldH.Fontes

Maybe the short answer is: Anothr pointlss flsh n th pan. Anothr wy to say nothn constantly. 

ahthatliz
ahthatliz

loved the humour in this article! it's like edutainment! thanks daamoth

jghank
jghank

There's a difference between humor that's funny (and enjoyable) and heavy-handed sarcasm. I would think a Time writer would avoid alienating readers. Comedy is hard. I'm afraid you didn't try hard enough to be enjoyable.

Awesomeness
Awesomeness

their FLICKR is wrong it should be 6+12+9+3+11+18=59 not 6+9+3+11+18=47 Duhhhhh......

kowbouy
kowbouy

Can't forget what those yawhoz? did with Jukebox Music Match when they bought it....Look out kid I hope you invest that money wisely... And for those of you that would like the western version of Yawho? go to Yeeha.com

rebecca.gonzalez
rebecca.gonzalez

For the people complaining that Doug didn't explain what Tumblr is ... you totally missed it. He did explain. It just didn't take a lot of words, and the rest was the humor part. As filler. Which was... darn funny. And if you took offense to the insults, you missed it again. Geez. And for the Tumblr kids threatening Yahoo--seriously? They. Don't Care. And Yahoo will change Tumblr, because they can't help themselves. 

TrekTraxAtlanta
TrekTraxAtlanta

The offensive insults might have been easier to take if you had actually EXPLAINED what Tumblr IS, as the freaking name of the article promises.  Instead, I have no more idea now what it is than before I started reading this piece of crap.  Take your comedy to Open Mic Night and the next time your bosses give you an assignment, how about actually writing something informative.

Changes_Long
Changes_Long

I hate to admit it but your comment about the blood pressure medicine did remind me I hadn't taken mine this morning. That's really true. But hopefully I am still years away from the Depends.

maryfaithryan
maryfaithryan

I'm 21, didn't know what tumblr was. Your humor is so snarky (and true!) ha gotta love it.

SusieAdriance
SusieAdriance

I appreciate humor but really feel you missed the mission of the article.  Not only did you alienate every babyboomer in your audience, but I was sort of looking forward to understanding Tumblr's true relevance and what purpose it served for its members.  BTW my dad is 92, he DOES wear Depends and he Facebooks with the best of us!


39isNOTold
39isNOTold

To the person who wrote this... you're an idiot!  No thanks for the agist insults, prick!  You actually get paid to write this???  What is the world coming to?  And, I'm 39, not ready for Depends, but perhaps you should put one over your face to block the crap that comes out of your mouth!

wordbird
wordbird

OK Doug you had me at "Greetings, old-timer," (spot-on) but the fun dropped a few points with the Depends reference (generation gap just got wider). But thanks for all the info -- it was ... awesome!

noitallman
noitallman

I am starting to think that these companies are some sort of pyramid scheme, because they somehow suck tons of people into them, generate so much buzz that someone forks over billions, then everyone realizes that these businesses have no actual value to anyone and don't really do anything that anyone needs that badly. I am glad I do not own Yahoo stock.

john_ccy
john_ccy

Some folks who think they are too cool for themselves will find this hilarious.  I can see the humor he's trying for, but think it's a little too condescending and snarky to be entirely funny.  It's a fine line sometimes. 


iamprotoss1
iamprotoss1

Maybe I should create a site called "FMLR"  ;)

ggSolutions123
ggSolutions123

the missing e in tumbler is good for SEO. that said, i admit i do not access many sites on tumblr. maybe a total of 2, but not even in full. one is my cousin's site and the other a friend of a friend's

TerryReed
TerryReed

First Facebook and now Tumblr. No money. No real revenue. Huge price. Betting on castles in the sky can be very expensive. Selling them can be very rewarding.

ooliths
ooliths

Tme nose...

That yahoo has a security hole and breach of the likes of Sony's personal information issues. 

Tumblr is partly known for their anonymity works. Those there should leave now. 

The only people left at yahoo is legacy users, scammers, spammers, & trolls. 

I choose tumblr because it was the best choice to have a blog that was password protected, the whole blog not just a page. 

I will  shutter my blog at tumblr, remove the content. I do not even take mail from yahoo accounts any more. 

Congrads, to the Tumblr developer. I would not have turned down a billion in cash either. How your 4 years slave time in lala land passes quick. :)

-JC 

ComedyGary
ComedyGary

Very nice. An entertaining as hell piece that confirmed that Tumblr is nothing more than another pointless place for people with nothing to say sharing everything. I'm going to set up my account now.

giovanniiotti91
giovanniiotti91

I would say TME more than TIM. And it would sound cool

D1P3N
D1P3N

This article only confused me. But it was funny..... 

technoblogical
technoblogical

Tumblr is a great service, but it doesn't make money. Either Yahoo will have to change it to change that or it will die. If that happens, there are alternatives. One great one is WordPress. It's free, makes a profit, and has tool to import your Tumblr posts to your WordPress. Another great thing about WordPress is they will let you run the software on your own server.

L.v.Maddison
L.v.Maddison

For those who criticized...have you no sense of ironic humor at all? And since when is someone's facial expression a reason to be critical?

wdfc
wdfc

I also thought this was a VERY IMMATURE article. Plus, I think Marissa needs to get rid of her smirking smile.


pendragon05
pendragon05

Did a 12 year-old write this article??

mjgru
mjgru

"Depends Elastic Undergarments" ?? With respect to TIME, you're a punk. 

judeamorris
judeamorris

Whats with the cracking on old people? I don't like sexist or racist references (even joking references). These references are right up there as well. You're obviously a jerk.

rhubarbster
rhubarbster

Don't like ageist intro and last paragraph. We older folks are not any happier about stereotyping than any other demographic. Not funny.

sozesty
sozesty

@daamoth - Yeah, yeah, yeah blogs and the interweb all this modern stuff. I my days it was news boards, Fidonet and we considered VI the greatest application ever. Let me yawn this off and wake me when there is something interesting to see. 

zaglossus
zaglossus

Tumblr - isn't that something like Facebook with porn?

jessicallanas
jessicallanas

I am a very very very regular user of tumblr, and I don't want it to change at all. I speak on the behalf of many people right now, as we have all been discussing the idea. If yahoo tries to make major changes to tumblr, we WILL delete our blogs and sign off forever. Tumblr is our home and I don't know about you, but I don't like it when people mess with my home. It really is in yahoo's best interest to leave tumblr alone change wise.  They will lose so many of the people who make tumblr the website it is today.

Daniishere
Daniishere

@Awesomeness I came to the comments just for that reason, lol. I was thinking the exact same thing. :)

The-Mindful-Lunatic
The-Mindful-Lunatic

@rebecca.gonzalez: I like your post! Too many people today are in too much of a hurry to fully take in what is written. Too many people today are happier being offended at nothing and for no reason when there is actually no cause for their reaction. People today are lazier than ever, dumber than ever, and they feel that their lacking is everyone else's fault. I saw your comment and wanted to thank you for thinking outside the box! Rare these days! 

The-Mindful-Lunatic
The-Mindful-Lunatic

@TrekTraxAtlanta There was plenty of explanation. Too bad that ppl like yourself are in such a rush to be spoon fed that you cannot slow down enough to actually absorb the information that was plain as day!

The-Mindful-Lunatic
The-Mindful-Lunatic

@SusieAdriance Yet another hungry reader waiting to be spoon fed. Read the article. Take a moment to read, not skim and take in the article. It was explained very early on. There is your clue as to where to find it.

Surfdancer
Surfdancer

@john_ccy Yep, you nailed it john_ccy. I could also see the humor he was attempting to emulate-he failed miserably. 


They ridicule commenters who wanted a clear explanation, but Dan must admit, his article was terribly crafted. The explanation was a skimming with much filler and sorry, Dan you're really not funny. If you like humor making fun of people with disabilities, then you probably thought this was funny. It's beyond juvenile and shocked this is in TIME???


He called it a day after using the "little kid acting like a detective" example (great choice, btw), but he didn't then go anywhere from there? He could have at least explained it's relevance/ importance and compared to other social media or talked about what currently dominates Tumblr (porn, cat memes, fandoms, etc). How does it differ from Twitter? FB? 


Sorry, I thought I was reading TIME- my expectations were FAR, FAR GREATER!!



txcat
txcat

@pendragon05I had the same thought as yours, except that I believe some preteens could do it better.

FrankBlank
FrankBlank

@judeamorris You have to realize that, since 1972, the young have been stupid.  Evidence?  Tumblr.  Fussbook.  QED.