Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Tumblr”

The decline and decline of tumblr

When I joined tumblr in November 2010 it was an amazingly versatile and useful site.

Its most useful feature was as a blog aggregator.

It would automatically collect posts from my other blogs and make linked summaries of them. That meant that all I needed to put in e-mail sig and the like was “Follow me on tumblr” and friends could check to see if any of my blog posts looked interesting enough to read in full.

It did even more — it would post announcements of things on Facebook, Twitter etc.

And that was not all. It was a blog in its own right.

It could capture links to web pages, or quotations from them and save them for future reference or for sharing with others.

In addition to all this, tumblr had a feature that let you post to it by e-mail. That was useful for times when you ran out of bandwidth at the end of the month, and web access slowed to a crawl. You could still post to tumblr, even if only to let your friends know that you couldn’t do much else on the Internet.

So tumblr promised to become a kind of centre of the web, a kind of exchange that everything else passed through. It could become a central reference point to which you could refer all your friends.

But then it gradually began to lose functionality.

It stopped posting on Facebook and Twitter.

It stopped aggregating other blogs.

And finally the feature of quoting and linking web pages stopped working. The feature was still there, but it no longer worked. As soon as there was text in the quotation window, the “Post” button disappeared below the bottom of the screen and there was no way you could click on it.

Now, however, it isn’t even there any more. So I now use another blog, Simple Links, for that function. It doesn’t work as well as tumblr did, but its better than nothing at all.

And the last time I tried to post to my tumblr account by e-mail it said “Mail not delivered”.

With all this loss of functionality, there was less and less reason to visit tumblr, or to invite other people to visit it.

But the last straw came when tumblr told me it was time to change my password.

It said I should wait for a link that would be sent by e-mail. I waited, carefully copied the link and pasted it into my web browser, and the response was:

There’s nothing here.
Whatever you were looking for doesn’t currently exist at this address.
Unless you were looking for this error page, in which case: Congrats! You
totally found it.”

On trying again, I got another message:

Sorry, this isn’t a valid password-reset link. You’ll need to request a
new link from Tumblr.

Eventually I managed to contact Support, and they gave me another link that eventually let me enter a new password.

It responded “Password is too short”

I typed a longer one. “Password is too short”

I typed the longest Enlish word I could think of (Antidisestablishmentarianism) with a couple of non-alphanumeric characters tossed in. “Password is too short”

I give up. Having lost all functionality, tumblr is entirely dysfunctional.

tumblr is boiled cabbage

You know about boiled cabbage?

It’s a joke.

Only on tumblr it’s no joke. It’s deadly serious.

I wonder if anyone is still using tumblr.

Internet entropy

A couple of days ago our ADSL router was fried by lightning and we were offline for a couple of days until we could get and configure a new one. I wondered if we might be missing something important, but it turned out that we weren’t. What had piled up in our absence was not important communications, but a huge pile of “notifications” about utterly trivial things that were hardly communication at all.

There were notifications that several people had tweeted on Twitter, or that someone I didn’t know was following me on Twitter, or wanted to be my “friend” on Facebook. Eventually I’ll probably start getting notifications about notifications. Well actually they are already are, because Twitter itself is a notification.  This morning I deleted 144 spam comments on my other blogs most of them from something called “lista de emails”. There may have been some false positives there, but it’s too time-consuming even to scan the headings to see.

Web sites that were useful a few years ago have become less so. One of these is Technorati. It used to be useful for finding out what was going on in the blogosphere, and what people were blogging about. But no more. I already blogged about that about a year ago, see here Search Results Technorati | Notes from underground:

Back then it had stuff that interested me as a blogger. I could go there to find blogs and blog posts I was interested in. There used to be “Technorati tags”, and one could click on them to find who was blogging on what topics. If I was going to blog on a subject, I’d look up tags related to that subject, and if those blogs said anything interesting on the topic, I’d link to them.

Now, however, you can’t find stuff that you find interesting on Technorati. If you look at their tags page, for example, you can’t search for tags. They only show you the currently popular tags for the last month. Do not expect Technorati to give you what you like. You WILL like what Technorati gives you and tells you to like. There is a kind of arrogant authoritarian flavour to it.

I noticed that Technorati’s stats on some of my blogs had not been updated, including this one, so I checked to see why. It turned out that I didn’t have a full RSS feed turned on. In the interests of saving bandwidth, I had a partial feed, so that people could see the heading and first couple of paragraphs of of blog post. If they were interested, they could click on it and read the full thing. But Technorati wanted the full feed, even if no one reads it. So I turned it on. They responded with ” This site does not appear to be a blog or news site. Technorati does not support claiming of forums, product catalogs, and the like.”.

Well that’s nice to know. But I doubt that anyone is reading this non-blog anyway, so why am I writing this? No one will read it. No one will comment, except, perhaps, “lista de emails”

I looked at a friend’s Posterous blog the other day, and it had apparently been hijacked by someone posting fluff and incomprehensible garbage. Link-farms stuff.That’s why, when I moved this blog from Blogger, I did not delete the old one, and I disabled comments on it. Spammers love to post comments on abandoned blogs. Tip: If you get tired of an old blog, don’t delete it! If you delete it, the link farm people will move in and take over, enjoying all the traffic from old links, providing yet more junk to clog up the Internet.

I tried to post on my own Posterous blog, and it didn’t work. So I’ll probably abandon it. It has been taken over by Twitter, and lots of stuff doesn’t seem to work any more. My Tumblr blog used to provide an aggregate of my other blogs so it could be a place I could refer friends to who wanted to keep in touch. It also doesn’t work any more.

When Geocities stopped working, I moved my static web pages to Bravenet. But they’ve stopped working too. Go to one of my pages there and they just say that “This website is currently expired. If you have any questions, please contact technical support.” But there is no way of contacting “technical support”. None whatsoever.

So as a result there are a few thousand (or million) more dead links out on the Internet, where people say more and more about less and less. And actually it is not people saying it at all in most cases. It’s bots. The dormant predecessor of this blog at Blogspot still gets more readers than this one, though I ghaven’t updated it for months. And one of the biggest sources of traffic was a bot that told people how to get bots to write blog posts for them, so that they could make money from the web. I think that’s what may have happened with my friend’s Posterous blog. Snake oil, anyone?

Follow me…

Follow me on Tumblr.

Wherever you go on the web these days you see exhortations to “Follow me!”

Usually it’s on Twitter, but quite often it’s on other sites as well. I suppose it’s part of the Twitterisation of the web. Some social networking sites that used to have “friends” now refer to “followers”.

I gather that you can also get software that will go through the people you follow on Twitter and remove those who don’t follow you in return. That seems strange to me. I’ve never asked anyone to follow me on Twitter, other than my own immediate family, and none of them are on Twitter anyway.

Twitter used to say that what you should tweet about was “what are you doing right now”. It was a bit silly because the only possible answer one could give was “tweeting on Twitter”. Now they’ve broadened it a bit to “what’s happening?”

But I’ve never asked anyone to follow me on Twitter, and I don’t ask or expect anyone I follow on Twitter to follow me in return. I follow people and groups that interest me, and find the easiest way of doing it is through the Daily Paper. which gives a digest of the main links. It’s not perfect, as it doesn’t show every link, and I’m not sure what selection criteria it uses – I suspect that it may give preference to links to articles that have pictures, which are not always the most interesting ones.

But I don’t ask people to follow me on Twitter.

Follow me on Tumblr.

Why Tumblr?

Tumblr is probably one of the most underrated things on the web.

It’s a sort of quick ‘n dirty blog site, where you can post stuff by e-mail, or in various other ways with a minimum of effort. It’s a kind of blog site for non-geeks, for people who are not web fundis, and makes it easy for ordinary people to use. The trouble is that it is a non-geek site that only geeks know about and use. You don’t have to know HTML or CSS or any of that fancy stuff. It’s WYGIWYS — what you get is what you see.

Follow me on Tumblr.

No, I don’t mean that literally.

Yes, you can follow people on Tumblr in the same way as you can follow them on Twitter. It’s like Twitter except that it’s not limited to 140 characters, and you can log in and see a feed of all the people you “follow”. But you can also just go in there and read it, without having an account.

So why should you follow me on Tumblr?

Three of my blogs feed into Tumblr, and so you can see a digest of the recent posts and links to them. If one of them catches your fancy, you can click on the link and go to the full post and read it, and comment if you like. And if it doesn’t interest you, you can skip it.

I post in various blogs, depending on the topic and the content and how I want to format it. Most, but not all of my theological stuff goes on Khanya. Most, but not all of my political and general stuff goes on Notes from underground (that’s this one). And stuff about books and literature can go in either. And then there are the family history and genealogy ones.

Instead of going to each of them in turn to see if there are any new posts that might interest you, or getting an RSS feed of one and missing the others, or of all three and wasting bandwidth on stuff you don’t want, you can go to Tumblr and see if there is anything that interests you or not.

Blogger, the software for this blog, has a “Blog this” feature, which I use quite a lot. It grabs a paragraph or two from a web site and lets you use it as the basis of a blog post, but it usually needs tweaking and fiddling with HTML to get it looking half decent. But sometimes one doesn’t want to do that. You just want a link to a web site to remind you what it was about and share it with others, perhaps. Tumblr lets you do that easily — for example this one, about a steam engine that rescued passengers from electric trains stranded in the snow.

I call my Tumblr site Marginalia. If my life as I live it and experience it is a book, those are some notes and comments written in the margins.

No, Tumblr isn’t perfect, and I’m still playing around with it to see what it can and can’t do, but if you want to “follow” me anywhere, then follow me on Tumblr.

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