Tumblr has been a fantastic writing platform that I used -- admittedly, infrequently -- since September 2009. My first post was the declarant Economist Goes On-Demand. I stated about the publication's digital transformation:
Sounds like it would have been a useful service about three years ago, but now that you can get your news hot-wired via Kindles, iPhones, and computers, it hardly seems as important. And… the news industry rages on in attempting to figure out what it is, exactly, they want to do to save themselves.
Three years later and the news industry still hasn't figured themselves out. In the marketing world, we were talking about fragmentation with devices and broswers and laptops three years ago -- a sickly, ill-defined word then and now -- but it could just as easily describe the state of publications. Print, digital, e-ink -- all with various pricing schemes. This is an unfortunate condition of the news world that will go on for some time, but it's clear that some publications are finally wringing sense out of it. I can now subscribe to the New Yorker via print and choose to read issues on my iPhone or iPad. Same goes for the Economist (finally having adopted this version of subscription-pricing). There's promise, to be sure.
But there is another area of the digital world that grows more convoluted and broken than even the news industry: social media. Though the Internet has always been social, things like discussion forums never got trendy -- it took timing, modern development standards, and (an initial) network exclusivity to bring it to a boil. When Facebook first set itself against wicked college students at the beginning of the new millenium, it likely had no idea what kind of travesty into which this party would turn. At first, it was sharing photos from the night before, throwing sarcastic insults at someone's profile, and digitally poking a student. It was fun while it lasted. But here we are, nearly a decade later, and everyone is sharing their immediate thoughts, sharing their immediate thoughts about their lunch, commenting on their lunch, liking their friends' lunches, taking photos of their friends' lunches, commenting on photos of lunches -- they may even be declaring their love for the brand of a ketchup used at lunch. It's happening. It's strange. It's incoherent. And, actually, that's fine.
The Internet has always been incoherent and strange. We're talking about the deranged digital universe that was built with the hard work of reddit, Something Awful, the pre-dickbar Digg, YTMND, The Best Page in the Universe, 4chan, Ebaum's World -- even Angelfire sites. While several of these have degraded into corporate drudgery, some still press on as modern Walls of Curiosity. But social media sites -- and we're really just talking about a few notables, like Facebook, Twiter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and LinkedIn -- are here to stay. At least in some form. They'll evolve. They'll need to monotize. They'll need to stay competitive. New platforms will rise and erode old ones (Evan Williams's new blogging project, Medium, just launched, for instance, and we all know what happened to MySpace). It's an on-going saga with faddy, shiny things.
For these reasons, it was imperative to move away from a free, fairly socialized platform and use something more solid and true to form. I want to focus on writing, with or without an audience. So here's my defiant stab against the incurable social media fatigue and egomaniacal poison that runs thick throughout the Internet: A website, owned and operated! How daring and defiant.