When Identity and Blogs Don’t Mix

Sometimes Tumblr blogs can be really annoying (hold on)!. Many times I’ll find myself on a blog after clicking a reblogged post in my Tumblr dashboard, and for just some reason, the blog won’t have any information at all as to who’s site it is.

Every time I find myself on a Tumblr blog not knowing who owns the blog I get frustrated. At this point, I’ve always come to associate a blog, with a blogger. And just the sheer number of places where you can find this is sign that it comes from something in the way that the system is designed. If identity is something that can be completely excluded from a website, that must to have been planned.

Posterous blogs are always very clear on who’s blog it is.The customization options are there to hide the blog author, but practically all the time a user’s profile image is there, you can click through to their Posterous user account page and see what other blogs they own, and more often than not you can see the full names of all the contributors to a blog.

Not that either is fundamentally right or wrong, it’s just a frustrating experience being on someone’s site and not knowing who they are. The nice thing that WordPress has done from the very start is that the About page is ubiquitous. Every WordPress blog has one by default. With Tumblr the only ubiquitous thing is that there’s content.

There two scenarios where a Tumblr blog isn’t confusing:

The first is where you already know the person. If you already know who owns a Tumblr blog then it’s not confusing. You of course don’t need to see your friend’s profile picture or their bio every time you visit their site. You already know who they are, and chances are you got to the site because they told you about it.

The second is when the person who’s running the site doesn’t matter. In these cases, the identity of the blog is less about the person behind it and more about the identity that’s derived from the content. Who runs Fuck Yeah Girls and Bikes doesn’t matter. The site has an identity of its own thanks to the single topic the site focuses on. As long as the site is always about girls and bikes then everyone will feel comfortable there.

In both of these cases I think not having an identity serves as a core part of the site, and improves the experience. Going to your friends blog means that you have a personal relationship with them. Their identity being a secret and not explicitly shared gives you a connection to the site other people won’t have. The content, and the commentary will resonate with you differently.

For the second type, there’s something really refreshing about those sorts of blogs. In these cases, the site hasn’t been made for self marketing and no one’s using it to pimp their brand. It’s just pure content, and pure audience (sometimes with submissions).

Thoughts here inspired by The New Who Thing: http://www.subtraction.com/2010/08/04/the-new-who-thing

Fuck Yeah Girls and Bikes: http://fuckyeahgirlsandbikes.tumblr.com/





One response to “When Identity and Blogs Don’t Mix”

  1. Ryan Boyles Avatar
    Ryan Boyles

    Funny, I had the same impression here. When looking at the blog post on posterous, there is no view of the main page profile info. In most cases, I find that your observation of Tumblr is the case with posterous blogs, very little information about the person or in essence, their personality. Maybe we just aren’t following the same types of blogs. I am a long-time Tumblr user and find that mostly people choose to infuse their personality into the experience almost to a fault. They overshare what they are passionate about. How else to explain the eff yeah meme that pervades the vibrant Tumblr community? I’m glad you point out subtle differences between Posterous, WordPress and Tumblr. I think many in social media and bloggers teach that content is king and Tumblr blogs exemplify this. They are all about content, while linking people that like, write, share or re-share it. I appreciate that Tumblr links together Likes, sharing and annotation as part of the core experience. Reblogging and it’s baked in notion of “we’re all equals” and respect for others ideas and content is what weaves a tighter blog community.

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