Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Summersaults for Tumblr

Tumblr is a relatively new blogging tool similar to TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, and Vox (of these, Vox would probably be the best comparison). Tumblr excels at three things: simplicity, elegance, and mixed media. It is quickly becoming my tool of choice.

I've been following Tumblr since Gina Trapani wrote about it in March and experimenting with it for the past few weeks. It really is a lovely piece of work. It's hard to describe how much fun it is to use. There are so many nice touches and friendly features that I find myself wanting to play with it. I don't normally feel that way about blogging software.

There are three unique things about Tumblr you should know. First, Tumblr is built around specific types of content. Instead of a single HTML window where you compose your post, you first choose the type (link, text, photo, quote, video, audio and chat) and then provide the content. Each of these types display differently on the blog (the provided templates are wonderful, by the way).

Second, you can import other feeds into Tumblr easily. This was the initial feature that drew a lot of interest. Tumblr can be a central location for all of your online activity if it's published through RSS, from your Flickr photos to your Twitter updates to your other blogs. Very handy, but with Tumblr, I find myself using Twitter and similar sites much less often as there are so many ways to post a quick thought to Tumblr.

Third, Tumblr is not a content management tool or pro blogging platform. It is what it is and not much more. For instance, within Tumblr itself, there are no comments or stats (gulp!). There's no support for pages, sidebar content, widgets and many other things. It is just a dead simple, beautifully done way to share things online. I love it.

And today, it got much, much better. Up to this point, Tumblr was basically a side-project for a company called Davidville. There hadn't been any news or updates about Tumblr for months until a recent post revealed that a new version was just around the corner. Tumblr 3.0 launched today.

You can read about the nearly 400 changes and improvements here, many of which are very innovative (Vimeo integration, channels, private posts), others that are just better versions of what other sites offer. Tumblr reminds me a little of Apple in that many of the features make you think, "What's so great about that? [insert blogging name] has offered that for years." And then you realize that yes, it could be done before, but few people ever did because it was so clunky and complicated.

Not only has Tumblr become an even better tool, but they've now formed a company and are focused exclusively on Tumblr. The future looks very bright indeed.

Check out leaveitbehind.tumblr.com. You'll find a few interesting things there I haven't posted here. Right now, I like to think of it as my vacation home. I'll let you know if I decide to move there permanently. In the meantime, set up a free account in about 15 seconds. It may be just what you've been looking for.