Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Great Tumblr Experiment

One year ago today I started an experimental photo blog on Tumblr. I was inspired by a couple of curation-style Tumblrs, and I wanted not only to learn more about that blogging system but how I'd do as a Tumblrer myself. I'd already amassed a decent collection of cool pics, so I determined I'd post one a day. In fact I only missed a couple of days when we were camping (or unfortunately in the hospital). Here are some of the insights, rules and posts I made along the way:

Curation of Cool
My posts started off being random things I like, the Millennium Falcon, MINIs, etc. I was surprised how heavily influenced (for better or worse) I was by the community. My Tumblr evolved specifically into photos only of cars, motorcycles, bikes, architecture, industrial design, fashion and celebrities. No more, no less.

The Parameters
I noticed over time that I started unintentionally and subconsciously creating a set of image guidelines and parameters for all the photos I uploaded. For instance, all the pics are landscape rather than portrait. I never posted a black and white image. I also posted photos with tons of woodgrain, which became almost an ongoing theme.

Color Scheming
Prior to starting my Tumblr, I did a little experiment on the Kyality blog where I paired products with the factory MINI colors, which I called Color Scheming. I found myself connecting one day's photo to the next via color, tone or texture. If you check out my archive, you can actually see some cool evolutions, juxtapositions and color patterns over time.

Celebrity Sundays
I started doing this pretty quickly. Every Sunday evening throughout the year, I've posted a pic of a celeb (typically a music or movie star) in what I considered a Kyality-style pic. My favorites are all less polished, more real shots of famous folks in some cool, architectural environment.

Notes vs. Comments
Systems like Twitter and conventions such as likes and notes are basically killing comments on blogs. For instance, though this post may be read a few times, chances are it won't get a single comment. The notes system in Tumblr is pretty amazing, you can actually see content—for lack of a better term—go viral. The most comments I've ever received on a single post on this blog is around 8 (with at least one of them being me). The image from my Tumblr above has 126 notes (consisting of likes and/or reblogs) and counting.

Proper Citation
After some friendly banter with @upto12 and @wanken, properly citing my sources whenever possible became a substantial effort throughout the year. I'm actually shocked how little this is focused on within the blogosphere. Even more shocking is how social media is more or less set up to celebrate the sharer of content rather than the creator. My experience on Tumblr spawned this post on the StruckAxiom blog.

All in all, the Great Tumblr Experiment was pretty fun. Will I continue to post? Yes. Will I post more than once a day? No. Will I worry about posting everyday? Probably not. Finally, here are some cool Tumblrs to follow if you get a sec: anchordivision, convoy, thefashionator, beeteeth, valeriejar, mwaissmann, everydaycarry and analogdialog. Enjoy!
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