On Tumblr and independence

If you have been a close reader of this website, you may know that for the past twelve years I had been using Tumblr as a sort of administrative backend for my posts, pretty much cloning my Found Objects tumblr with just a dash of Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram, and quite rarely some text posts written directly to this website's SQL database. I took to Tumblr, and the whole principle of tumblelogging, almost at once, and wholeheartedly. Back in 2007, not only was posting to Tumblr revolutionary in its ease and instantanaiety, but the idea of having differently-formated posts according to their type was something I could never let go of again.

I'm not going to narrate Tumblr's woes over the years. While the final nail in Tumblr's coffin might have been its "porn ban", in which new owners Verizon killed the service's reputation as a safe space and as the last large scale indie web host in a bid to please the reactionary moralists in charge of the Apple App Store, for me Tumblr started to die a few months earlier, when GDPR compliance totally broke its API and nobody at Tumblr seemed to care to fix things. So talk about setting fire to a sinking ship.

Which is a shame. I was proud to affect found.tumblr.com, a good URL I got offers for every now and then during Tumblr's heyday, and I loved the ethos of an old school, no real-name policy, social web host that not only tolerated porn but, most importantly, did so as a side effect of offering an haven to the oppressed and bullied on the rest of the Commercial Web — queer people, social activists, lonely and misundertood teenagers, what have you. Tumblr offered sanctuary for the weird, the frisky, and the melancholic, very much like Geocities (another Yahoo casualty) or LiveJournal once did. Now it does not. Refugees may learn to setup their own host, or migrate to the Fediverse or Google Docs (really) to stay social. I'm really rooting for Mastodon to take off, so that places online where the "free" in "free speech" also means "freedom from hatred" can still exist. So I'm watching that space. As for here, I finally took the time to code a small backend so I can continue posting stuff without going through Tumblr. It's a somewhat sad way for my website to regain its independence. Tumblr served me well. Onwards!