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?



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.