Illustration by Joon Mo Kang (Source: Stanford Literary Lab)
This article in the New York Times is interesting. The writer is a total pompous ass, but the guy trying to make literary language and plots mathematically quantifiable is perty cool.
It seems like people “feel funny” about the idea of approaching literature mathematically. To them, it’s a precious emotional zone of complete subjectivity.
I think there is a lot of potential in the idea of distant reading. I unknowingly practiced a lesser form of it all the time in high school when I’d read four pages of a book and then write a paper analyzing the contrast between tone and content. You can get a sense of the DNA of a book from just one page because that page says everything the book is not, and that’s a lot.
I’m going to take a leap and say that Tumblr is “the next Facebook.” A blogging platform with a social element built in, Tumblr’s growth has been exponential. Last year, they were getting about 250 million pageviews a month. Now they get that many in a day. When looking at their activity on a chart, you can see they’re almost to the point of runaway growth. The platform has over 20 million blogs, which is 85,000 more than WordPress. Most major publications use Tumblr to blog creative “extra” content or communicate with their followers, so why haven’t many brands caught on?
Three major things separate Tumblr from other blogging platforms. First, it’s the easiest to use. There aren’t many options when making a post, and the ones that exist are incredibly intuitive thanks to the telegraphic icons and pared down tools. Secondly, Tumblr is customizable, even though you don’t have to host it yourself. You can grab a theme and dig right into the HTML, adding whatever functionality you want. But the biggest difference is that Tumblr is built around a community dashboard. You can follow as many people as you want, and the homepage is a never-ending scroll of posts by blogs you follow, skinned in an easy-to-read format. Recently, Tumblr has created spotlight pages for writers, artists and other figures to follow, and they’ve appointed editors to curate certain topics, like art, design and writing. What was once a free-for-all meme generator is now a more organized experience.
So, what could brands do on Tumblr?
Brands are increasingly becoming editorial. The best way to actually make customers want to visit your website or follow you on Facebook is to provide useful, interesting content, rather than slap campaign messages in their face. Tumblr would provide a way to place longer-form content on a social media platform that people are already hanging out on. It’s that simple. If you provide compelling content, people will reblog it, and suddenly brands will get more and more followers. By gaining influence on Tumblr, you can have a built in audience of tens of thousands of readers. Not only that, Tumblr gives followers the chance to reply or send messages, making it possible to create a two-way dialogue. Brands could even reblog customer testimonials.
How could brands change Tumblr?
Brands have had an enormous impact on the way Facebook works. From monetizing it with targeted ads to insisting on more customizable development options, brands have almost changed Facebook as much as Facebook has changed branding.
I could easily see this happening with Tumblr too. Right now, Tumblr hasn’t monetized and their servers crash constantly because of their high traffic. If brands moved onto Tumblr, they could easily create a suggested follow feature similar to Twitter, or preview sponsored content in their Radar or Explore sections.
To me, Tumblr seems like a natural step between editorial content and social media, and when used right, it could transform the whole way a brand interacts with customers. Time to get on board.
For internets people who might not know me, i work as a creative/copywriter at a suh-weet marketing firm called Zeus Jones. When we hire people, we make them do a homework presentation. I did mine last summer, and I’ve been meaning to put it on Tumblr for almost a year. These are the least embarrassing slides.
“The best sort of delivery device “isn’t cognitively loading at all,” he says. “It uses colors, patterns, angles, speed—visual cues that don’t distract us but remind us.” This creates what Rose calls “enchantment.” Enchanted objects, he says, don’t register as gadgets or even as technology at all, but rather as friendly tools that beguile us into action. In short, they’re magical.
This approach to information delivery is a radical departure from how our health care system usually works. Conventional wisdom holds that medical information won’t be heeded unless it sets off alarms. Instead of glowing orbs, we’re pummeled with FDA cautions and Surgeon General warnings and front-page reports, all of which serve to heighten our anxiety about our health. This fear-based approach can work—for a while. But fear, it turns out, is a poor catalyst for sustained behavioral change. After all, biologically our fear response girds us for short-term threats. If nothing threatening actually happens, the fear dissipates. If this happens too many times, we end up simply dismissing the alarms.”
Janelle Zara is living the dream life out in NYC. She writes for a bunch of publications, sometimes gets free YSL lipstick and hung out with Vera Wang. I’m jealous. Janelle is also one of the coolest, most wonderful and amazing chicks I know and I have been leaning on her petite (but super strong!) shoulder emotionally the past few days. Couldn’t live without her. THANKS, girl. Also, did I mention she’s totally hot? Look at her! So what does my NYC girlfriend depend on to look as pretty as she does? She’ll explain.