The encyclopedia joined Tumblr a few weeks ago, and since then, a number of friends, family, and colleagues have asked, “What’s Tumblr?” Short answer: “I don’t know.” Alternative answer: Go immerse yourself in Lost Splendor, a Tumblr page created by a history student in New York. The above images are from there, and I encourage you to find them all. By the end, I suspect you won’t care what Tumblr is. You’ll just enjoy the experience.
IMAGES: (Left to right, top to bottom): Eva Bartok; Japan Bound: Travel Brochure, ca. 1930s (travelbrochuregraphics.com); Marie Antoinette , Filming (La boite verte); Hitler Pin Cushion, ca. 1941 (Retronaut): “It’s good luck to find a pin. Here’s an Axis to stick it in!”—The Stick a Pin in Hitler Club, Chicago; the Statue of Liberty in Paris, unattributed, 1886; Professor J. Robert Oppenheimer by Philippe Halsman, ca. 1958
UPDATE: All right, maybe I can’t explain Tumblr, but this story in the New York Times Magazine very much can and does. The site’s twenty-something founder, David Karp, explains that he finds follower counts, like showing off all your friends on Facebook, to be “really gross.” And comments sections only bring out the worst in people.
How, then, to encourage feedback while discouraging drive-by hecklers who make you never want to post again? First, Karp notes, you can comment on someone else’s post, by reblogging it and adding your reaction. But that reaction appears on your Tumblr, not the one you’re commenting on. “So if you’re going to be a jerk, you’re looking like a jerk in your own space, and my space is still pristine,” Karp explains. This makes for a thoughtful network and encourages expression and, ultimately, creativity. “That’s how you can design to make a community more positive.”