David Karp saw a similar opportunity in blogging platforms when he founded Tumblr in 2007. He sought to cater to bloggers who want to share more than just writing.
"We started by imagining something that was a little more flexible," Karp explains. "In WordPress and Blogger, they were really designed for writers. Unless you were sitting down to hammer out an editorial piece, it didn’t let me do the stuff I wanted to do; it didn’t let me share a song I had stuck in my head or a video I’d just watched."
These quickly turned out to be valuable to users looking for a different avenue of creative expression; the blogging service boomed in terms of its user base, and the site boasts 90 million different blogs. Lady Gaga, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Beyoncé, John Mayer, Zooey Deschanel, Odd Future, and others all maintain Tumblrs that they update regularly. When both the Obama and Romney campaigns sought a blogging service during the presidential election, each turned to Tumblr. The Obama campaign peppered its call-to-action posts with a steady stream of memes, animated GIFs, and pictures of Bo the dog.
This is the world that the social Web is building in 2013: Rather than conferring legitimacy onto sites like Tumblr and Reddit, powerful entities – from AMA participant Bill Gates to the Tumblr-using Obama campaign – are turning to those outlets, on their own terms, in order to be legitimized.
I haven’t published much the past few weeks, mostly because I’ve been doing SXSW preview coverage for a few outlets. Here’s more of it! This is from the Austin Chronicle, about legitimacy and social networks as we’ve moved past Facebook and Twitter into stuff that’s a little weirder and more idiosyncratic.
Also, if you’ll be around SXSW, please consider the Building Tools For Creativity session on Sunday evening, where I’ll be interviewing Tumblr founder David Karp onstage.