A Slice of Fried Gold

Contemplating Tumblr.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

As I get more and more engrossed in the comics blog I'm affiliated with, I'm connecting with the fellow writers on there increasingly as well. One of the writers, Carina (aka the token girl), told me about Tumblr. Tumblr is a site that exists in some sort of gray area in between blogging and tweeting, and from what I can tell is likely to be the next big thing in terms of social networking (already 1.2 million plus on there). A better write-up of what it is comes from Wikipedia:

Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users are able to "follow" other users and see their posts together on their dashboard. You can like or reblog other blogs on the site and other users can do the same to your posts. As your blog becomes more popular your tumblarity will rise. The service emphasizes customizability and ease of use.[2]

So there you have it - it is a site that pretty much acts as a fusion between the on-the-go nature of Twitter but with room for more substance if you desire it. If Blogger provides blogging and Twitter provides micro-blogging, then you could make an argument that Tumblr invents a third genre (if you will) of blogging that I will now name mobile blogging (in the immortal style of Michael Scott - I declare that trademarked!). I signed up quickly and checked it out for a bit and it really seems like the entire audience right now is strictly early adopters. Of course, with early adopters you often get the too cool for school types, those people who are cutting edge or no edge at all, so I'm unsure as to how I'd fit in with that fine group.

However, the question I mean to ask isn't based off of whether or not I should join Tumblr (too late for that). The question is are these micro-blogging sites a good thing? Sure, I love Twitter and have a complete blast with it and Tumblr seems like another fun venture, but if people are going to be learning how to write from 140 character posts or from text messages or from Tumblr mobile blogs, what exactly does that means for the English language in twenty years? Hell, what does that mean for the English language in five years?

A great example is Shaquille O'Neal. The Big Aristotle is a larger than life personality who many people love across the world, which is clearly reflected in his enormous Twitter following. However, take a look at his Twitter feed. It's completely shattered English. However, not only is it acceptable, but there is likely a large population of younger people looking at that writing as something to aspire towards and imitate.

Of course, it is hard to argue that mobile/micro blogging really is a good representation of the English language. These people do not speak like that, they just write that way because of limitations established by the medium they are using. I understand that and am not chastising them for that. My implication is that if we have generations growing up reading these posts as enviable items, we're headed for a really ugly and illiterate future.

I really have no room to talk though. I wrote two tweets in the midst of writing this post, and I made a Tumblr post (quoting Douglas Adams no less) as well. But I do openly recognize it as a burgeoning issue within the next decade or so, and openly wonder when the world will start to address it. Until then, I'll continue doing what I do. Always posting...but secretly judging.


Erok said...

Intelligence has been on the decline for quite some time. This just adds to that as far as I'm concerned.

David Harper said...

You and Katie better have smart kids. Seriously, train those kids up from birth. I'm going to turn mine into geniuses and will disallow them from any activity that may make them regress. Besides comic books.

We can save the planet Erik!

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