What’s a profile if it looks like everybody else’s?
Ellis Hamburger spent some time with the fine folks at Tumblr to talk about the new look of the Tumblr mobile app on iOS and Android.
The new Tumblr app is built around a new feature called Appearance. By tapping a small profile icon next to your blog name inside the app, you can customize your blog just like you can on the web. You can choose a header photo, add a circle or square avatar, and choose among 33 fonts for your title and description. You can pick from a library of colors to dress up your title, description, background, and links, or plug in a specific color hex code like #FA4B2A. If you’d like, you can even remove your avatar, header, or description entirely.
“Now, it’s like your Instagram profile looks exactly, pixel-for-pixel, like everybody’s Instagram profile,” he laments. Karp is the first to admit that Tumblr isn’t exactly like Facebook and Instagram, but his vision for how digital identity should work can be applied more broadly. He seems to believe that our online profiles should change with us, and not just as the result of Facebook’s latest Timeline profile update.
This is obviously the thing I love the most about Tumblr. Your space is, your space, and you can do whatever you want to it. I like that sometimes I can spend a weekend uprooting my personal blog, or my work website so it is more reflective of me. And I like that some of this customization is coming to mobile.
To Karp, Tumblr is one of the only places where creators can truly be free to look how they want and post what they want. “On Flickr you can post photos, and on YouTube you can post videos, but now the major services have started to say, ‘Post your square photos,’ or ‘Post your six-second videos, or ‘Post your 140 characters,’” says Karp. “As far as modes of self-expression, they’ve gotten more and more restricted … Do we want every visual thing we enjoy from here on out to be square?”
One of the things I’ve always liked about Tumblr is that it requires you to be more creative than Facebook. It’s why I spend more time here, or why (as Ellis points out) “Tumblr users spend an average of 16 minutes on the site each time they log on, more than any other site”. It IS the place I can put my videos, songs I like, photos I took, and links I’d like to share… like this link for example.