I’ve been resisting the temptation to walk from Tumblr for several months now. I have many friends within it’s labyrinthine tunnels, but their number has been declining for a long time. Compared to perhaps 5 years ago it’s become an internet version of Radiator Springs. Go and listen to “Our Town” by James Taylor, and think about it in terms of how Tumblr once was, and what it has become. I suppose in many ways the same story has played out at lots of other social platforms on the web – LiveJournal, Vox, MySpace and now Tumblr each have their time in the sun, but eventually they seem to wane.
You could point fingers at any number of reasons for the decline of Tumblr. Those of us that have been around long enough remember the days before their acquisition by Yahoo. We remember the site falling over almost every day. We remember the cavalier leadership of David Karp (david), and the insane posts by Christopher Prince (topherchris). I remember David telling an interviewer that Tumblr would never have advertising. And then the whole thing was sold to Yahoo, and the exodus began. Then little by little, advertising appeared. Everywhere. And the exodus accelerated.
The acquisition of Yahoo by Verizon in recent days has caused a ripple throughout my remaining friends at Tumblr – perhaps those in America know something about Verizon that I don’t – the defections have already started. I don’t think it’s necessarily “the end”, but a shift has certainly happened.
I’m not sure that I’ll ever actually “leave” Tumblr, but I can see a day when I’m among the last few left – talking to myself like a fool on a hill. The same thing happened at LiveJournal. I re-joined a couple of years ago and cross-posted for a few months. While there were positives – making new friends such as Stace and Christina – I noticed after a little while that I had overtaken Stan Lee in popularity within their system. THE Stan Lee – the legendary comic book guy.