If you’re a fan of social web blogging sites you’re probably familiar with Tumblr, the home of some 42 million members who blog about everything from sports to cooking to their favourite TV shows. The community is so large in fact that the site’s owners have decided to begin a new project covering Tumblr as an independent community all unto itself. In other words, Tumblr is hiring new writers to write about itself and its bloggers.
The project’s new executive editor, Newsweek’s very own Jessica Bennett, referred to Tumblr as its own virtual city with residents who all live their own lives within it. She believes there are a limitless number of angles to cover those citizens and share their ideas and lives with outside readers. That’s the idea behind the new idea. Writing about those who are writing for Tumblr.
I must say that the whole idea intrigues me quite a bit. 42 million subjects presents project writers with an unending supply of ideas for their own pieces. As a web writer, I find coming up with new ideas to be my biggest challenge at times. Let’s face it; there are only so many articles you can write about car insurance or the nursing industry before you end up spending hours staring at the computer screen begging for a new angle. And for writers who pump out tens of thousands of words daily, ideas can be scarce.
I have no intention of applying for a writing position with Tumblr (I’m perfectly content where I am now) but if I did, I would want to be in on the ground floor of the project. I would want access to as many original ideas as I could possibly come up with so as not to be starving later on.
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I suppose there are a small portion of Tumblr members who are extremely intriguing and who present a very fertile literary field. But I would also guess there are an overwhelmingly larger number of members whose life and times are probably too boring to care about. The sooner I could get in on this community the better off I’d be.
Along those same lines, a handful of writers have been questioning the fate of the open Web over the last couple of weeks. Some seem to feel that recent actions taken by giants like Google and Facebook are threatening to make the Internet as closed as it was 20 years ago when AOL and CompuServe ruled the roost. I’m not convinced the open Web is in any danger of turning back the clock, and I believe the Tumblr move is a prime example of why.
Today’s Web reader is pretty savvy when it comes to finding content that is both free and unprotected. Whether we like it or not, the modern generation of web users are not willing to pay large sums of money for content or web-based services. That means the day Facebook starts charging for its services is the day they officially sink their own ship. Someone else out there will be happy to build a replacement site overnight. There are plenty of entrepreneurs willing to make their money from ad streams rather than charging subscribers.
As long as there is an Internet, there will be communities like Tumblr giving voice to 42 million bloggers who may, or may not, be able to write anything worth reading. But that’s not the point. Those blogs all have an audience regardless of how big or small. That audience paves the way for Tumblr to stay in business. It also paves the way for them to begin a whole new project to cover themselves as though they were their own little micro-nation.
I say, “More power to them!” If I were a Tumblr member, I would set my mind to producing the best work possible from this point out. I would want to be one of the first members covered – and one that gets covered more frequently than the rest.