Discourse-damaged Zoomers.

Tumblr is not one single whale, but the site’s memes and in-jokes and trends are whales that die on the ocean floor of the internet and then go on to influence wider culture. I also don’t necessarily think this is always a good thing. Yes, Tumblr gave us memes like Dat Boi, but, at its peak, it was a huge vector for fandom harassment and an extremely puritanical, sex-negative, and toxic “social justice” movement.

But to continue this idea of how Tumblr interacts with the rest of the world, I recently came across this great post written by user zvaigzdelasas, “The growing rift between tumblr culture as practiced on this site & ‘tumblr culture’ as practiced by expats to twitter is a fascinating example of divergent species evolution when like a cliff or river separates groups.” I’ve seen shades of this argument, as well — the super toxic users left Tumblr in 2016 and now they’re power users on TikTok and Twitter.

And this idea from zvaigzdelasas’s post lines up with another good take on this that I saw recently from user tempestpaige. They wrote about a phenomenon they’re called “discourse damaged zoomers,” which I think is a really useful concept. They argued that while a lot of the culture war discourse happening on TikTok right now was happening on Tumblr six or seven years ago, it never reached the scale that it can on a platform like TikTok.

Ryan Broderick on cultural whalefall.

Tumblr’s Great Contributions to internet culture being Dat Boi and ~The Discourse~ are both pretty strong arguments for deleting it from the face of the planet and salting the servers in its wake . . .

2021-08-25T06:28:56+10:0028th August, 2021|Tags: , , |

Posts are stored in the balls.

A million or so years ago I once read a post by Marco Arment on how they originally architected Tumblr’s database. The tl;dr version of it was that posts actually lived in two separate tables; the first containing the post ID and common meta data, plus a field that indicated post type. The post type field would then be used to query against a second table that had the schema for whatever that content happened to be; text or quote or images or whatever.

This post seems to have vanished from the web (or at least I don’t remember enough of its context to find it), but it stuck in my mind at the time because it was almost exactly the same way I architected my original homebrew weblog software, back in the early 2000s,1 and the reason I did it that way was because I was copying how sailormoon.org ran, and the reason sailormoon.org ran like that was because its author was copying off the concept of inodes in *NIX.

I am pointing this all out to contextualise how much I hate this post about Tumblr’s new post formats, which basically seem to be taking all the worst features of Medium/Gutenberg and bastardising them into JSON for . . . the hell of it? I guess? Because it’s the Cool New Datastructure? It’s also to provide hashtag-evidence for my theory that Tumblr post content data are being moved into a NoSQL database, while still keeping the heavy lifting of the relational stuff in the original SQL. It would also probably explain why Tumblr’s new post formats have such bizarre length limitations; serialised JSON data structures are verbose and NoSQL databases tend to have much smaller limits on document sizes that SQL does on table rows.

There’s an argument that Tumblr “has” to do this because it has so many billions of posts in its databases it needs to find efficiencies somewhere. Except to me that doesn’t sound like an argument for ridiculous over-complicated database architecture. It sounds like an argument for not having centralised social media silos in the first place . . .

  1. I also had, at the time, an Internet Friend from what was then Blogger who, after he saw me strike out to make my own blogware, decided to do the same. The software he developed was, at the time, called b2. When he finally moved on from it, the code base was taken over and turned into what we now know as WordPress. The company of the guy who did that, Automattic, currently owns Tumblr. Incidentally, I was a teenage girl from Australia and b2’s original author was Corsican. But of course it was an American who made millions from commercialising prior art. Go figure, I guess. []
2021-03-22T08:02:35+11:0022nd March, 2021|Tags: , |

Automattic giving Tumblr the worst features of WordPress (read: Guttenberg) rather than giving WordPress the best features of Tumblr (read: the queue, proper post format support) is both disappointing and entirely on-brand for Tumblr, honestly.

2021-03-02T07:35:34+11:002nd March, 2021|Tags: , |


So apparently, of all companies, Automattic are the ones who’ve bought Tumblr. Huh.

Automattic are, of course, the parent company of WordPress.com and the company that pretends it doesn’t own the WordPress.org version of WordPress so that it can continue to benefit from the free labor of open source contributors, a la the Standard FOSS Company Business Model. They are… probably not the worst people who could’ve bought Tumblr? They certainly don’t (or at least, historically haven’t) have quite the hardcore exploit-the-users-with-advertising revenue model of most other social media companies, so… eeeh?

Also, if it means some of the Tumblr-standard features (post queues!) get worked into the WordPress codebase… hey. I would not be complaining.

EtA: Also, re. the purchase price:

Tumblr’s original sale to Yahoo! was for $1.1 billion.


2019-08-13T09:23:51+10:0013th August, 2019|Tags: , , |


Todone: I fixed up my Dreamwidth importer so I’m now only keeping about a month’s backlog of posts there. After that, they get deleted from DW and any comments get imported back to the archive on my main blog (as currently happens with Tumblr).1

Also, in light of this discussion, I’ve added a page that describes more clearly how my blog’s Tumblr and Dreamwidth mirrors work.

Tl;dr, if you want to comment on a post, do it wherever is best for you. But alis.me is the “permanent”/long-term archive.2

  1. Still buggy: Import encoding is borked, but… I can’t be bothered trying to unravel it enough to fix it. Bleurgh. []
  2. Because it’s the platform I control, basically. You know how I don’t flip out about third-party platforms selling out or folding and losing content because of it? This is why. []
2019-04-29T12:06:47+10:004th March, 2019|Tags: , , |

Oh no not even Rothko is safe!

Relatedly: to this day, my mother has a framed Rothko exhibition poster she stole from a wall in a random room in the Venice Guggenheim museum when she was a teenager. So I guess I’ve always subconsciously associated Rothko paintings with crime? Which is… kind of inappropriate, I guess? But really, really specific and probably not what The Algorithm is flagging for…

2018-12-06T07:42:10+11:005th December, 2018|Tags: , |
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