A little bit of background: We’re producing a cross platform documentary called the Future Journalism Project and recently launched a blog dedicated to it. I won’t give away our platform choice right here but this post is a response to a question another documentary filmmaker asked us: Should I be on Tumblr or WordPress.com.
Tough question: you’re asking how we chose between two flavors of awesome.
Here’s a bit of what our needs were/are and our thinking.
In November we decided to launch a blog to get word out about the Future Journalism Project; curate ideas and themes we came across in our research and interviews; and interact with others who are both concerned with and excited by changes taking place in American news media.
To engage publicly we needed a platform to do so. Twitter was a starting point and we post away at @futureJproject.
As said above though, we wanted to curate ideas so needed something that allowed for something more substantial than 140 characters. We could have installed WordPress, Drupal or Expression Engine but that’s overkill for where we are in the project. More importantly, it wouldn’t immediately connect us with a community.
So we looked at hosted solutions and online communities. Facebook was a thought. It’s obviously an easy place to set up a page and post links and such to it like we do here. But it doesn’t paginate, which we like. And it’s Facebook, which with its shifting user agreements and privacy issues we don’t particularly like. With that caveat aside, we will do something there in the upcoming months. It’s simply too big a gorilla to ignore.
WordPress.com was thought about but involves a level of complexity around posting that we didn’t need. Not that it’s difficult to post, just that it takes a few minutes longer than on Tumblr or Posterous. Also, while you can subscribe to blogs, much like you can follow blogs on Tumblr, and like posts, much like you can heart them on Tumblr, and even reblog posts just like you do here at Tumblr, the vibe isn’t as intimate as Tumblr’s.
Put another way, it’s a User Experience thing.
Tumblr positions community as the primary medium with tools given to members to share content with one another. The User Interface of the Dashboard (ie., post a photo, post a link, post a video, etc.) more or less keeps published items short and sweet.
WordPress.com positions publishing as the primary medium with tools given to create some community. The User Interface of its Dashboard suggests creating longer articles and posts.
Since long articles and other content management complexity wasn’t a concern, we went with community. When we do need a more “sophisticated” platform, we’ll still Tumble.
Here are a few reasons why we chose Tumblr:
- Mark Coatney and Tumblr have done a great job of bringing onboard the likes of The Atlantic, TNR, The Economist, The New Yorker and other can you believe they Tumble too publications. They’ve even created a sort-of, kind-of news channel.
- ShortFormBlog, NewsFlick, The Political Notebook, and Soup among many, many newfound (to us, at least) others inspire us daily.
We can’t be all happiness and rainbows though. What do we dislike about and/or think could be improved?
For one, some mechanism for back channel conversation. For others, check this lengthy list over on Quora.
Like we said up top though, you’re asking why we chose between two flavors of awesome.
It’s not an either/or proposition. For us it will be both/and… or we should say, we’ll be using a self-hosted WordPress multisite install when the time comes. Right now though, Tumblr accomplishes — and accomplishes very well — everything we need.