Yesterday, I received a few emails linking to this post on Pingdom that describes the growth of Wordpress and the faster growth of Tumblr (disclosure: I’m a board member and investor in Tumblr).
But comparing Tumblr to Wordpress is like comparing apples and oranges. They are completely different things.
Wordpress is a publishing platform. You can host it yourself or Wordpress it will host it for you. And yes, some people use Tumblr in this use case.
But the vast majority of the Tumblr engagement (traffic, page views, liking, reblogs, follows, etc), is on the Tumblr Dashboard which is their unique & native version of a social newsfeed. The Tumblr Dashboard is where you follow other Tumblr users and traffic inside the Tumblr Dashboard far exceeds (understatement) traffic to the aggregate page views to Tumblr powered sites.
I think this is a misunderstood thing with people that dont use Tumblr or haven’t started following enough people. It’s not a tool.
Tumblr is a social network and the best place for creative self expression.
I wrote a piece a while back, when I was first getting excited about Tumblr, where I describe the inside and outside view of Tumblr:
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 click 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).
Bijan makes the case that this inside view — the Tumblr Dashboard — is a social network while Wordpress is just a blogging platform: all outside view, and no inside. Note, however, that the piece I quoted above was about Wordpress releasing new social features — specifically, ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ — in an effort to become better social plumbing.
So I don’t go along with the notion that these are two discrete and different things. Wordpress, Tumblr, Typepad, Squarespace — they are all social tools with a strong publishing orientation, but all support social networks of people reading and writing, just with different appraoches to supporting those connections.
Tumblr is the technology that has gone the farthest down the path toward a new social paradigm, where all involved can become full participants in the explicit social network that Tumblr supports. People can opt to be plain old readers if they want, but they will never get wise to the social streaming in the inside view until they sign up for their own account, and jump into social curation: leaving plain old reading behind.