Over the walled gardens

Tumblr reblog cloud t-shirt

WordPress.com has already adopted two Tumblr features (likes and reblogs) but the third one coming in version 3.1 may complete the transformation: post formats.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been done. And can you really replicate the Tumblr experience on self-hosted systems?

Beyond the debates of regurgitating posts killing originality/identity/attribution though, I’m more interested in the ability to interconnect blogs, tweets, tumblelogs, notes in the most seamless way possible. (We are all products of our surroundings; the more connected these platforms are the easier it is to trace back the original author.)

Retweeting should give me the option to post that tweet on my blog, and tweet replies to that post should show up right alongside normal comments, and so on. RSS and pings/trackbacks are supposed to facilitate those things, but they’re pretty much dead on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

People seem perfectly happy playing inside their walled gardens. This isn’t just in the context of publishing, but in this mobile/tablet boom, where native apps are the way to go.

As a postscript, I’m listing my observations with Tumblr and why it’s just a piece of the puzzle much like Twitter, Facebook, and every other social/publishing platform is:


  • There’s built-in support for custom post types: text, link, photo, quote, video, audio, message. From the posting interface to the bookmarklet.
  • Images are hosted on their server.


  • The custom post types could be more flexible. E.g., if I want more than one photo in a photo post, Tumblr automatically transforms it into a Flash slideshow.
  • NO. COMMENTS. Replies are great but what if I want to reply to that reply but don’t want to reblog? There’s Disqus integration but it’s weak, you don’t get notifications for new comments in the Dashboard.
  • The Ask feature is also a private messaging system. I don’t want to publish every single response. I should be able to reply privately without trekking over to the sender’s Ask box.
  • The Dashboard is a poor excuse for a feed reader. (Even LiveJournal’s Friends page lets you filter by friend groups and communities. As much as I despise it, the truth is Tumblr can learn a lot from LJ since they share the same audience, but it’s been around longer.)
  • There are no timestamps in the Dashboard, not even with private messages.
  • The recently revamped Queue still needs work. Scheduling posts is broken. I want a pause button. Drag and drop is cute but up/down arrows plus move to top/bottom are more efficient. (Basically: the old Queue is still better than the new one.)
  • It’s getting more downtime than ever.
  • It’s a walled garden.

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Design × Code × Words for a better Web,
made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.