Tumblr Tumbles

So the other day I was saying to myself…

“Self, you don’t have enough accounts on web 2.0 type websites. You should go find another.”

So I went and started a Tumblr page.


OK, that’s not true.

The real reason was because on a semi-recent (actually kinda old … I’m a little behind) episode of Net @ Nite it was mentioned that Tumblr allowed you to use your phone to call in audio that would be posted directly to your Tumblr page.

Sound familiar?  Yeah, it’s what Gcast lets you do, only unlike Gcast they haven’t started charging for that feature yet.

Well … I was underimpressed, to say the least.

There was no option to hear your recording before posting it live to the internet.  I’m someone who usually needs at least one do-over when it comes to recording anything, and I see how this could go very, very wrong.

Also, I know phone calls are by default low quality audio, but I think they may have compressed the file even beyond that.  I assume this was in the name of conserving as much bandwidth as possible, and considering Tumblr’s popularity I understand that could be a big issue.

Unfortunately, the final nail in the coffin was that the resulting RSS feed didn’t have an enclosure.  That’s geek-speak for “It may be audio on the web, but iTunes will never let it be a podcast.”  Except for certain thinking-outside-the-box uses, this is not a Gcast replacement.

The rest of Tumblr was a collection of ups and downs.  The service is a miniblog, as it allows more than microblogs like Twitter but it’s not nearly as full-featured as WordPress.  They have multiple posting methods, whether from their web interface dashboard (seen above) a variety of apps via their API, or their bookmarklet, which I have to say is one of the slickest (and ironically, feature rich) ones I’ve seen so far.  Still, nothing they had really jumped out at me as being better than the other services I was already using.

And then I decided to search through the Tumblr community to see what I could find in the way of educators, and I discovered that I’m not likely to recommend this service any time soon.  At least, not until they include a Google-like safe search feature.  I found too much that I would be embarrassed to have to explain if a student showed it to me in class, and that was while looking for teachers!

My final take?  If all of your friends are using Tumblr go ahead and make an account.  If you want a free blog?  There’s plenty that are better.  Want a microblog PLN?  Go with Plurk or Twitter.  Picture posting?  Flickr.  Cool links?  Del.icio.us or Diigo.

But don’t bother with Tumblr, it really doesn’t seem to be worth it yet.

4 responses on “Tumblr Tumbles

  1. A. Mercer

    I use tumblr for microblogging some stuff. http://mizmercer.tumblr.com/ I like to use it for posting pics from more social events/stuff at conferences, and family pics. It is pretty darn easy to post stuff from my phone, and it’s more organized that sending stuff to plurk or twitter. I don’t look at it as a PLN tool, but a sort of scrapbook.Since I can x-post to plurk and twitter, it’s not a one-or-another choice. I can see why it would not work for you and others, but I thought it would be nice to share why it works for me.Definitely a YMMV platform.

  2. Dave LaMorte

    I have been using tumblr for a while becaue I found it a really easy solution for blogging and podcasting. The only problem is that you’re right and it doesn’t create media enclosures. I’m hosting my podcast their now, but I lucked out because I also use feedburner which automatically creates enclosures.

  3. theartguy Post author

    Thanks for the comments!

    I could see myself getting more involved in Tumblr, or at least recommending it more, if it wasn’t for the shortcomings I listed above. It really is quick and easy to post things, but in my opinion it has the same problem mp3 player manufacturers have:

    It’s not enough if they make something as good as the iPod – to succeed they need to make something that’s better.

    As for the feedburner hack to get the enclosure tags – I do that now with AcademicAesthetic.com and I’m glad to find out it’ll work with Tumblr. It’s a shame that that level of geekiness is required to get it to work though, when services like vox.com do everything for you.

    I guess maybe I was just looking for specific things, (like a quick and easy way to get non-geeks involved in podcasting that could replace Gcast) and got disappointed when I didn’t find them.