Like a lot of people my age, I had a blog in the late nineties, early two-thousands. And like most blogs, it was hosted by Blogger. For a long time, Blogger was the premiere blogging platform. It was, like most blogging services at the time, basically a word processor that published to the web. Yes, you could upload pictures and the like - but blogging was mainly concerned with the written word. Blogger was a point-of-view distribution machine.
Most bloggers, in the absence of any real mission statement or editorial control, eventually evolved into either chroniclers of their own mundanity or cultural critics. Blogs were largely either a place to find out what someone had for lunch or what they hated about the latest TV show/movie/album/political personality/cultural movement of their choice.
A decade and change later, Blogger has gone the way of all flesh. And in it’s stead, the blogging platform of choice seems to be Tumblr. And while Tumblr certainly has all the word processing power that Blogger had, it has other abilities as well. The thing Tumblr does best is give it’s users a way to grab content from throughout the web, be it links, images, music, videos, animated gifs, or quotes, and showcase it.
Using Tumblr, most bloggers, lacking any real mission statement or editorial control, eventually evolve towards re-posting content that they love. Gathering bits from television, websites, and books and broadcasting them to their friends.
Blogger created critics.
Tumblr creates curators.
Okay, so that’s an oversimplification. A platform does not a blogger make. But when I squint I see two paradigms at work - and the distinction between the two is important, I think.
Thoughtful, well-intentioned critiques are a rare and valuable thing and needed. A critique is like a gun, though - it’s worth can often be overshadowed by it’s potential for harm.
Curation, though, is a force for good. Curation says, “Here’s what I love and I want to share it with you!” Curation says, “This is good and worth knowing.”
Bad critiques are, at their heart, subtractive. They discourage expression. They make you scared to try. Curation inspires.
When I first saw Tumblr, I mistook it for lazy. I thought instead of creating their own content, people were just regurgitating others. And in some cases, that’s probably true. But bless that holy regurgitation. Because when we vomit what we love out into the world, it inspires those out there seeking inspiration. Thanks to Tumblr I have encountered art, and poems, and movies I never would have seen otherwise. And all of it fuels the divine engine inside of me that wants to make stuff; that wants to create.
This is an essay about blogging - but not really.
Be a curator. Not a critic.