WordPress Releases ‘Like’ And ‘Reblog’: We Need TumbleBacks, People!

WordPress is following the lead of Tumblr and other blog platforms (like Typepad) and adopting at least one part the ‘poststream’ model that Tumblr pioneered. The Tumblr poststream model has two ‘sides’:

The Outside View – When Tumblr users are looking at other Tumblr-hosted blogs, they see several controls that are not visible to non-users. Along with the blog content, they see ‘like’, ‘reblog’, ‘follow’ and ‘dashboard’ icons, like this:

The ‘like’ button (the heart) is a way to create a haptic gesture that winds up on the post’s ‘notes’ list, a history of all the ways that the post has been touched by others.

The ‘reblog’ button makes a copy of the post on the user’s blog, and adds that action to the original post’s notes history.

Clicking the ‘follow’ adds the blog to the user’s list of followed blogs, which is a perfect segue to the second view in the poststream model.

The Inside View – When the user logs into Tumblr (or when they clink on ‘dashboard’ after being logged in), they are presented their Tumblr dashboard, which aggregates posts from all the blogs that the user is following, plus posts from their own blog, and notes that other users’ actions have left on posts. Here’s the third page of my Tumblr dashboard from this morning (I wanted to show a note and the page controls):

The ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ controls are displayed on all the posts in the poststream, and work in the same way as described.

You can see that wakeupfromthedramscene has started following my UnderpaidGenius blog. Other notes also are displayed, although their are none in this page of my poststream:  reblogs, likes, and answers to questions (any text post that ends with a question mark allows for answers to questions to be accumulated).

WordPress Adopts (Part Of) The Outside View Of The Poststream Model

WordPress announced (without any reference to Tumblr) support for ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ – a subset of the outside view.

Today we’re introducing a new like and reblog feature enabled across the whole of WordPress.com. When you’re logged in to WordPress.com and viewing a post you’ll notice a new link in the admin bar at the top of the page. If you really enjoyed the post then you can click the “Like” link to signify this. This will then show the author how many readers liked the post.

Once you’ve liked the post, the link will change to “You like this” and you’ll be presented with some new options via a drop down menu. You can also access this menu at any time in the future by hovering over the “You like this” link in the same way other menu items work.

WordPress offers up a list of the posts that the user has ‘liked’ but doesn’t seem to implement anything like the outside view. However, I have to imagine that they will trend in that direction, simply based on competitive pressures.

A Growing Divide In Blogistan, And The Need For Tumblebacks

I guess that all WordPress users will be happy with the new features. But as soon as they become used to ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ they are going to experience a real annoyance: when they land on a Tumblr blog post they will not be able to ‘reblog’ or ‘like’ it. Why? Because the competitors in the blog platform space do not seem to want to play together nicely.

When I first started to gripe about this divided world, last year, David Sippey of Typepad said that he would be willing to support the development of some interoperable means to support cross-platform interoperability, which I started to call ‘Tumblebacks’. But I got nowhere with the folks at Tumblr.

A Call For Interoperable Tumbling: Tumblebacks

I would like to expand briefly on what I think is called for.

  1. A convention – like trackbacks – needs to be established, so that a message can be sent by one platform, like Typepad, to another, like Tumblr, on behalf of an author. I propose we call this ‘tumbleback’, plural ‘tumblebacks’.
  2. Let’s say I want to reblog a post from a Tumblr blog on my Typepad blog. I might use a Typepad bookmarklet that is Tumblr-aware. When I select a post on a Tumblr blog, and use the reblog capability in the bookmarklet, it would a/ post the reblog on my Typepad blog, and b/ send a message to Tumblr, indicating the reblog.
  3. The cross-platform reblog would look much like a regular, within a single platform reblog, with the name and URL of the source blog displayed.
  4. The message sent from Typepad on my behalf would be received by Typepad, and the fact that I reblogged the post could be included on the ‘notes’ history associated with the source blog post. This means that readers of the original post would see that I had reblogged it.
  5. Tumblr might send a message back to Typepad including information that would allow Typepad to display the notes history of the source blog on the post I created. Alternatively, this could be provided by an API. Likewise, as other Typepad users reblog my post Typepad could pass these notes along. In this way the full reblog history (and favorites or likes, as well) could be maintained at the original source post, and shared by everyone.
  6. I think some new microsyntax is called for, that would indicate the platform, author, and other metadata associated with these cross-platform trails. More to follow on that.
  7. The addition of downstream reblogs and likes/favorites could be added to the streams of participants by the various services.

It’s a non-trivial technical challenge, and can’t be simply accomplished with RSS, as some have suggested. But most importantly, we need a united Blogistan, not three or ten separate worlds, all implementing essentially similar services but not in an interoperable way.

We should all exert pressure on these vendors to agree to interoperability around the blogstream social dimension of blogging. I would be happy to participate in a working group on the subject, and I have had some support – like Michael Sippey – but otherwise, nothing.

While the vendors may think that their interests are served by non-interoperability, consider the instant messaging marketplace, where the three major players – AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft – effectlively lost their importance when web 2.0 generation social tools came along. Had they done the opposite back in the late 90’s and early ’00s – created an interoperable set of standards for IM and opened that platform up for developers to build on – they might have benefitted from the social revolution instead of being sidelined by it.

The blog vendors may wind up in the same spot.

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