Roll your own: post, article, entry

Yesterday, Jeremy posted on his journal a dozen or so references to various people who have been discussing the pros and cons of blogging, the future of blogging, and the value of ‘owning’ your own data.

I do agree with almost everything – almost everything that has been said in this entry.

I have been running this blog on Tumblr since I first went freelance back in 2012. The intention was, I couldn’t bare the idea of designing yet another WordPress site, and I had used Tumblr in the past and it is a great example of a simplistic interface which allows you to quickly throw out and disregard content.

But, over the last few months I have grown increasingly concerned with the future of Tumblr. As I mentioned during my talk on Photography at this years UXCambridge, Yahoo made some terrible decisions with Flickr and it is yet to recover. It isn’t as bad as the disaster that has been Myspace but with every update to Flickr’s UI sees another photography group die, another photographer go elsewhere and many of them have gone to Tumblr. There is nothing to say they wont royally shag Tumblr in the next 12 months, and then where will all the scenesters go?

Perhaps the description of a blog has become stale, ‘everyone’ has a blog but regardless of what you label it, for many people (myself included) it’s just about throwing shit at a wall. That’s why I’ve always had a strapline on my blog’s of ‘seemingly meaningless content’, an apt statement made by another current colleague a few years back which I loved, because yes, to you it may be meaningless, but to me, for that moment in time, it meant something.

I know for a fact that I will write this here and now and not a single fucker will read it, and I am kind of OK with that… well no, actually I am not. I want to be heard and here is where I tread on something from Jeremy’s entry (see I call them entries because he calls it a journal -potato:potato) which throws the discussion a little sideways.

Several quotes are from posts on the increasingly popular Medium. Tyler Fisher “because it is easier and hopefully more people will see it”. Well that’s my problem too.

“The World Wide Web” is a descriptor which is full of mis-representation. It implies that everything is connected, that within six degrees every page on the internet is related to Kevin Bacon, well I’m sorry, but it sure as shit is not.

I’ve spoken to many people in the past about how I find it hilarious that over a decade ago you couldn’t find anything online if it wasn’t part of a web ring that you had stumbled upon and then scoured every member site of the ring. Today we have Tumblr, Myspace, Bandcamp, or Cargo Collective and what are these services if not well organised and hyperactive Web rings?

I chose Tumblr for ease of use. But I also hoped that it would help in getting my voice heard. That if I took a photograph I wanted people to experience they would see it. If I wrote something, perhaps someone would stumble across it and agree, or disagree and maybe start a conversation but you know what? That is all bullshit of the highest calibre.

In 2013, I added to my Tumblr a series of photographs I took several years ago. The timing and execution of these photos coming to Tumblr was strategic.

The first was a set of images of Converge playing at Sonisphere Knebworth. They were published on the same day that Converge released Pound for Pound: The Wolverine Blues Sessions on LP. Three photos which got ‘liked’ and reposted more than anything I have ever written on this blog (in fact to date, nobody has reposted something I have written). Since that day, I get maybe 2 or 3 reposts or likes of one of those images a week.

The second was a series of images of The Chariot, posted on the day they announced they would be splitting up. The same thing happened.

But I had these images on Flickr, and on my own photo site Avangelist Photography for years and nobody was interested. Were they?

By placing these images on Tumblr instead of my own site, which I have hosted and managed like a Japanese sand garden for years, eyeballs got put on them. if you produce content that people want they will eat it up like fat kids on cupcakes – but only if they already liked it to start with.

These people, these avatars, are clickers. They are the typical Tumblr user, occasionally running a search on something they like and then acting upon it, saving it to memory only to never remember it again.

With the case of the Converge images, this was more a matter of very smart people doing some very smart marketing. Deathwish Records, the label which distributes Converge releases, and is part owned by a band member reblog anything they find in search (OK not anything) but a lot. One of the images had this treatment, and I am quite proud of that, but it meant their audience (one immensely bigger than my 14 followers) saw the image and acted.

I have now hit rant territory because I got distracted about two paragraphs ago and have lost my thread, but in a nutshell, yes. I do agree we should write our own stuff on our own sites – but if you’re only worrying about the delivery mechanism you’re worrying about the wrong thing because if you don’t own your own physical server which you can touch and hold – your stuff is still leased and you’re pushing shit uphill.

Published by

Andy Parker

User Experience Designer, headbanger, biker, skater, gamer from Brighton UK.