I’ll Tumblr For Ya

My poor blog has been ignored for far too long in favor of another. Yes I’ve been seduced by that simpler, easier, reflection-lite blogging platform Tumblr. Seven months ago it started innocently enough with a post including a few animated GIFs. I thought that it would be a great place to deposit GIFs that I’d made and never found a way to post here. But then I discovered the inconsistency of Tumblr’s GIF requirements and some of the voodoo-like solutions. So I left…

Four months later while creating an assignment for ds106, I discovered this idea of creating an animated GIF of a moment of television I watched in my youth in an old TV. So I put it on my Tumblr blog as well. I also sorted out how to get GIFs to work and posted a few more – and from the number of likes/reblogs, I discovered there are a lot of stoners on Tumblr. But then I got an idea…


A really good idea (at least I thought). How about I make a lot of little animated TV GIFs and put them in its own Tumblr blog. And born was Don’t Turn That Dial. How much fun I’ve been having watching old TV and creating these GIFs is something I will write in another post soon. But for now I need to keep going, there’s more to this Tumblr story.

Around the same time I started making TV GIFs, in another class, I was hosting a week long daily creative challenge with my students. I was participating and I decided to remix an image one of my students had posted. It was an animation inspired by an artist Ryan Seslow introduced me to, General Howe, who creates bloody re-visionings of 80s GI Joe cartoons. I loved these remixes and the spontaneity of trying to think of a way to animate any still image presented. The posted ended with this:

Never bring a JPG to a GIF fight – or I’ll animate the crap out of you.

Via Twitter, Ryan Seslow latched onto this idea, invited General Howe to discuss, and we created GIF Fight! – a weekly remix animation challenge. Another Tumblr blog yay! This time with collaborators, which has grown to four and we’ve been at it now for eleven weeks. To give you a sense of what we’ve been up to here’s what was made in round four with the three wheeler prompt:

 canyon-miss blowup-accident mega-man

I just love how each GIF Fight player has a completely different approach. Another Tumblr blog that needs its own reflection post.

But there’s more! Tim Owens, Daniel Phelps, and I have been collaborating on a Maker Commons (another post needed) and throwing ideas back and forth about integrating maker projects in the classroom. Daniel has been building a makerspace at York College and we got our first 3D printer. And one of the early learning curves with extrusion based 3d printing is calibrating the thing. Failed prints are very common as you’re getting to know your printer, and if you happen to not be around when this happens… PLA spaghetti mess! But sometimes the failed prints can be quite interesting:


I’m not the first person to notice the unique qualities of these objects one might find on the Island of Misfit Prints. And so why not aggregate these amazing images in a Tumblr blog! Enter SpaghettiBot! I think a lot of these pieces are actually quiet extraordinary and say something about the ‘failures’ in mass production (yes this needs to be written about as well in its own post).

With four Tumblr blogs going already, you’d think that was enough. But somehow there been room for one more. Back in the creative challenge class, we concocted this idea of meeting weekly to continue the practice. We framed it as a way to collaborate, learn some new digital tools, be creative, and hopefully make some cool stuff. Somehow memes became the motivating force (no pun intended, see below) behind what’s supposed to be a weekly challenge. And one of the first we tackled was Vadering:

vaderedThis project is pretty young, and with the school year now over it might lie dormant until the fall. I do think our best effort was our Success Kid reenactments. It’s been lots of fun to make work with the students so I hope we continue Meme Fridays – yes another Tumblr blog (and writing about this one can wait a bit I think).

So while neglecting this blog in favor of five different Tumblr blogs, I’ve discovered a few things. First I love Tumblr for project blogs, they make so much sense if you have a simple concept and want to share it in one place. Don’t Turn That Dial has gotten a ton of ‘Notes’ and followers, which is really gratifying to see it well received. One post even received an infamous blue moderator tag for GIF, which leads to the post being promoted. I think it must have had something to do with the fact that a favorite 70s commercial character was used in a Family Guy episode – Look a Wagon Wheel!

Also, I’ve been exploring the blogs of the people who ‘like’ or ‘reblog’ my posts. And it has blown my mind how much content is aggregated into these mostly personal Tumblr blogs. People will sometimes have hundreds of posts, mostly reblogged, of things they find interesting. And it occurred to me that these are the digital equivalents of personal scrapbooks, school lockers, and notebook covers which include clippings of our favorite bands, fashion, celebrities, films, etc. cut out of magazines and pasted. It also made me think about how my scrapbooks could be stored in my mom’s house and forgotten for years, and then years later retrieved. But what happens to a Tumblr digital scrapbook forgotten for years, there’s potential for link rot and who knows, Tumblr could shut down – Posterous did. And all that interestingness you collected and might want to look back on years later is gone (this needs it’s own post too).

So almost three months and five Tumblr blogs I’m finally giving this blog, my real blog some love again. And as I’ve described, I have a lot more blogging to do!






3 responses to “I’ll Tumblr For Ya”

  1. Jim Groom Avatar

    Nothing to feel bad about, you have been on fire. That GIF fight blog is fucking awesome, I want in!

  2. Alan Levine Avatar

    I love these experiments (how about sharing your TV template method) makes me want to dive in more.

    Yet it makes me wonder the same, what do you make of the pile of scrapbooks easy to assemble but lacking context. Maybe it’s eye of the beholder.

    And is there potential to aggregate multiple tumblers? Would you RSS it or maybe reblog into yet another? Or is it best left in its niche?

  3. mbransons Avatar

    @Jim I’ll add you to the Tumblr and introduce you to the GIF Fighters. They’re awesome.

    @Alan archiving these digital scrapbooks is something I’m interested in and Tumblr definitely can be aggregated through RSS. I doubt much of the interaction data can come with though. As for these, being “easy to assembly, but lacking context.” I’d disagree with that. From what I’ve seen in many personal Tumblr blogs, the content chosen is very particular to what I imagine well reflect the interests of the blogger. And I find it amazing when I see a sixteen year-old that’s a huge fan of ‘retro-culture’ otherwise know as the stuff I grew up with. And she’s assembled a wonderful collection of ephemera I’ve never seen before. It is definitely “eye of the beholder” no different than the Asia and Police posters I put up on my wall in my bedroom, my taste not necessarily others.