I’ve been a Tumblr user for just under 4 years. Personally, it’s one of the best blogging platforms around, having solved the problems associated with services like blogspot or self hosting. This is coming from someone who started with greymatter in 1999.
Of course with a service like Tumblr, there are compromises. And that’s part of its charm: with less there is more. And though Karp has moved from unknown, to little-shit, and currently media darling, Tumblr still keeps most of its rakish “for you” community spirit.
So with this duality I am disappointed to see that Tumblr is is pulling my atari.tumblr.com subdomain and handing it over to Atari™ as part of a mostly tepid request on Atari’s part. Rather than educate Atari on it’s custom domain name services and maybe suggest tumblr.atari.com, it is quick to service brands no matter how far their fall from grace. Legally, my site does not borrow on the Atari brand or content so I’m not acting in bad faith. But unlike owning a top level domain name, Tumblr (not the user) owns the subdomain so ultimately it’s their decision. And since they probably don’t want to defend subdomains on the behalf of the non-trademark holder, the choice is pretty clear.
To a point, who cares? I’ll just get another sub-domain and have a silly story to tell over drinks right? So yes, it doesn’t really matter.
But in the micro-context of web communities, it does.
Tumblr has very much built the same sort of McLuhan global village that began as Geocities muck and has ended up with Facebook brass. It proudly represents a range of content and is striving for great. And with great comes growth and a change of priorities, mostly financially driven. But is Tumblr’s way to to financial freedom simply the process of servicing brands with a hurried social pitch over a community of that hopes to build an archive?
To this I have no real answers and no real attacks, just conversation. Will the new atari.tumblr.com have an interest in conversation?
What I love about this is that it’s a conversation and nothing shrill. No matter what happens, we’ll be smarter for it. Thanks Peter.