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Automattic Bought Tumblr and That’s a Good Thing

Today Automattic bought Tumblr. That beloved microblogging platform of yesteryear? The one that was the Snapchat equivalent of GenXers like myself? While I never maintained a super active Tumblr, I always loved the concept — share pics and interesting links and quick thoughts effortlessly. I even tried something similar in the early days of this blog with Post Formats.

Bring Back Microblogging

The concept of microblogging is so attractive to me for the same reason that Instagram is attractive. I don’t need a full post or editorial process to hit the publish button. Sure there are Influencers who have an Instagram workflow but my 400 and some odd followers aren’t expecting anything too special. I’ve made it a point to set the expectations bar as low as possible. Case in point.

And I get it — footnotes and a bibliography aren’t a requirement for publishing a WordPress post either, but WordPress has historically shied away from these little content types that are so easily digestible and that really reduce the friction for publishing and creating more. Gutenberg doesn’t discourage short content, but it doesn’t exactly encourage it either since it introduces layout tools and a block creation process that leans more heavily toward editorial than a quick brain dump.

And I’ll even go as far as to say there’s a psychological roadblock to putting out new content when I feel like whatever I’m working on is going to be measured like an article or something way more formal than it really is.

I know you’ve felt it too.

This Isn’t a One Horse Race

There are services that exist like micro.blog, which I’ve explored before, and are cool in their own right, but there’s no audience. It’s the ultimate chicken/egg problem.

Twitter has been trying to fill a gap that Tumblr’s left behind too, with longer character limits, threading, and more supported content types.

But Twitter is gross in so many ways.

And that’s not to say that Tumblr or TumblePress or whatever isn’t susceptible to abuse or trolls or other garbage, but at least I know that the foundation of the platform will have a value system of open web standards and transparent development practices. That openness is what drew me to WordPress in the first place .

CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THIS BREATHES LIFE BACK INTO RSS??? WHAT IF AUTOMATTIC REBUILDS GOOGLE READER TO SUPPORT FOLLOWING YOUR FAVORITE TUMBLOGS?? I’M TRYING NOT TO GET AHEAD OF MYSELF.

Beyond that, I believe an acquisition of this kind really starts to introduce the WordPress name into the same conversations as other major social platforms. It becomes more household. From a branding standpoint, it makes a ton of sense because a lot of my friends know of WordPress, but few know what it actually is. They all knew Tumblr and used it regularly.

A Few Other Cool Things

Here are a few other quick things that I thought about that are super nice bonuses and good outcomes from this move:

  • 200+ people will keep their jobs. Many of these are engineers who have worked on big apps at a very large scale.
  • Maybe some of these engineers get reassigned to projects like WooCommerce and turn it into a truly scalable eCommerce platform?
  • The Tumblr native app was always great in my opinion. Seeing what the Tumblr team can bring to those apps is very exciting. I’d love to open the WordPress iOS app to create instead of having it on my phone as a comment moderation tool.
  • A fresh perspective on publishing, in general, can’t hurt.
  • The WordPress brand is further solidified and gets used alongside Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the like.
  • WordPress powers like 88% of the internet or some obscene percentage.
  • Developing with an open web value system gets a new life, especially if Tumblr (or its WordPress-powered equivalent) can return to a place where we can quickly and easily be fans, creators, and make something that’s “all our own” without needing a computer science degree.

GeoCities is always a running joke around the internet, but I’d love to see us return to a place where “this is my working sandbox of thought and personal development” is more widely accepted.

Let’s get rid of some of the polish, accept that every piece of content won’t be perfect, and return to a place where we can get our hands dirty and publish fearlessly.

I’m stoked to see what happens next with Tumblr.