According to comScore’s State of the U.S. Social Network Market, Tumblr is one of the most consistently growing social networks out there. In December 2011 it had 15.9 million U.S. visitors, which is up from November 2010. Most of that growth has occurred since April 2011. But this is not just about sheer number of […]

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Pinspire vs. Pinterest

It doesn’t get more blatant than this. Pinspire is pretty much a pixel-for-pixel Pinterest clone, created by the serial digital ripoff artists at Rocket Internet. It’s a bit obscene just how much of a copycat Pinspire is — from concept to functionality to the cursive-style logo. Will it be as lucrative for the Rocket’s Sawmer Brothers as their other projects, an eBay clone they sold to the real auction site for $50 million or the European deals site that Groupon gobbled up? Or will someone finally serve them with a cease-and-desist letter? If that happens, someone please pin it.

Click here to view this gallery.

In the world of social media, discovering that worthwhile original idea for your app or website is by far the hardest thing to get right. It’s so hard, in fact — and the field so potentially lucrative — that many parties who jump into the field tend not to bother. Why should you create something original when there are so many successful sites and services that you can just rip off?

At least that appears to be the thinking behind many Internet companies whose concepts, web design or apps appear to owe a lot to other, more successful forebears. Once you start looking, it’s not hard to find digital ripoffs. At best, they’re quirky homages inspired by a successful digital brand. At worst, they’re ersatz imitators looking to cash in on someone else’s idea — just a step or two above malware.

Perhaps that’s a little harsh. After all, the humor writer Josh Billings once said, “About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.” If you substitute “web designer” for “writer,” he may have been talking about the state of digital design today. After all, it would be impossible to find a design that isn’t at least a little derivative.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Still, there’s a difference between borrowing some core design ideas and wholesale imitating. In social media, where the essential premise of connecting and sharing with your friends provides a basic architecture, perhaps the line between the two is blurrier than in other fields. After all, Facebook was called a MySpace clone, which was called a Friendster clone before that. But they are (and were) nothing like each other.

While building on existing concepts will always be part of design, so too will mimics, where the cloning is so pervasive and total that the site is nothing more than a copy of the original, merely slipped into a different skin. Here are the 10 most flagrant design ripoffs in social media today, at least to Mashable‘s eye.

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1. Beautiful Type

Curated by two web designers with a passion for the topic, as well as examples of great type, this blog offers some really interesting typography-themed videos.

Click here to view this gallery.

Tumblr is a great source of inspiration, as well as a destination for expression and entertainment. We have found 10 Tumblr blogs that showcase terrific typography which we think are are well worth font-fanciers following.

SEE ALSO: 10 Entertaining Tumblr Blogs About Your Parents | 10 Delicious Tumblr Blogs Serving Up Food Fun [PICS]

Take a look through the gallery for a sample image from each blog. Let us know in the comments which Tumblrs you follow for design inspiration.

More About: features, gallery, tumblr, typography

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A cinemagraph created during New York Fashion Week last month.

Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg comprise the rising star duo behind the wildly popular Tumblr From Me To You.

(One might argue, given recent campaigns with Ralph Lauren and Juicy Couture, a photo editorial in The New York Times and an appearance in Lucky Magazine, that their stars have already risen, but we firmly believe the best is yet to come.)

Beck, 28, and Burg, 30, combine an unusual set of talents that have attracted not only the notice of the Tumblr community, but also of a growing roster of brands and editors.

Beck is the photographer and the blog’s primary model and stylist. She leverages her pinup figure, makeup and hair-styling skills, and a wardrobe of vintage finds to create spreads that connote the glamor of American icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.

Burg is the more technical of the two, leading the blog’s design and the creation of their signature (and trademark-pending) cinemagraphs — animated GIF images that look like moving photos. He also — from what I observed in meetings with one of their clients and their manager, Karen Robinovitz of DBA — heads up business relations, jotting down notes on clients’ expectations and deadlines for deliverables.

The two met in 2006 through mutual friends, and are now engaged. Before they began working together at the beginning of this year, Beck — who says that from the age of 13, photography is “all [she’s] ever done, and all [she’s] ever wanted to do” — was still shooting in film. Burg encouraged her to purchase her first digital camera with which to begin blogging and tweeting, and more recently, to begin uploading her iPhone snapshots to Instagram. (“I’m obsessed,” she discloses.) He also designed her Tumblr.

Burg had, for some time, been taking frames from Saturday Night Live clips and turning elements into looping animations on a still background. These became the prototypes for the their first cinemagraph “Les Tendrils,” which was published on Feb. 13, 2011.


Beck and Burg’s first cinemagraph, “Les Tendrils,” published on February 13, 2011.

After they published their first cinemagraphs, Beck recalls that no one wanted to book her for photographs anymore. They wanted her to create “that moving thing you do” — which is when they decided to coin the term “cinemagraph.” The two felt they needed the term because what they created was unlike an animated GIF.

“There’s a cinematic quality to it … like a living photograph. It’s always a photograph first and foremost,” says Beck.


How They Create Cinemagraphs


Jamie Beck.

Click here to view this gallery.

Beck and Burg never know for sure if a cinemagraph is going to work out, which makes it difficult when brands hire the pair. “We can be 90% sure,” Beck discloses. “When we shoot from the street or at [New York] Fashion Week, and I can’t control the environment, it’s never a guarantee.”

To create a cinemagraph, Burg and Beck focus on animating one object: a swinging chain, for instance, or a spoon moving around the rim of a coffee cup. In a studio setting, the pair will employ pinpoint light to create sparkle, and fans to tousle hair and garments. Beck directs the camera, a Canon D5 Mark II, while Burg controls the props that produce the animation.

Beck and Burg will then import and edit the files in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. The number of frames they use depends on the medium. For Gilt Taste‘s website, they were able to create much longer loops and embed their work on the site using HTML5 video layers. A cinemagraph that appears on their Tumblr will end up being between 25 and 100 frames; a banner ad is even more constrained.

Shooting a cinemagraph doesn’t take any more time than shooting a photo, roughly speaking, but the editing process generally takes a day, says Burg.

Both Beck and Burg expressed frustrations with the limitations of connections speeds and file sizes, which necessitate the use of GIF files, and consequently reduce the quality. Beck expects that in a year they will able to distribute cinemagraphs that look so lifelike that you could touch them.


At a test shoot for Juicy Couture in August.


The Added Value of an Audience



A cinemagraph commissioned by Juicy Couture.

It’s not just Beck’s and Burg’s photography and cinemagraphs that make them appealing to brands. The two have also amassed a large built-in audience — a series of six cinemagraphs they did featuring model Coca Rocha in Oscar de la Renta gowns merited around 55,000 notes and more than 2,000,000 impressions, Tumblr fashion director Rich Tong revealed at a conference in Paris earlier this month. That exposure makes the duo a valuable distribution force.

Take a recent campaign Beck and Burg did for fashion brand Juicy Couture. They were commissioned to create a series of cinemagraphs using Juicy Couture products, some of which appeared as banner ads across a range of fashion sites, and some of which — like the one above — appeared solely on their own Tumblr, racking upwards of 15,000 notes (reblogs and likes) apiece.

“The great thing about Jamie and Kevin is that they’re not just artists, but they also have a distribution portal,” says Robinovitz. “Why would you just hire a photographer when you can hire a photographer who has a place to share photos… [and] a hungry audience?”

Robinovitz’s question was rhetorical, of course, but also a good one to pose.

In a recent interview, Scott Schuman, the photographer behind street style blog The Sartorialist, says that he earns somewhere between a quarter of a million and half a million dollars per year running ads on his blog, in addition to the assignments it has earned him. Will photographers who don’t blog and market themselves online stand as much of a chance? And will blog coverage be written into assignment contracts?

Beck says that while she has not negotiated blog coverage into any of her contracts directly, it is discussed with brands during an assignment — namely, she says, to figure out timing and what she’s allowed to post. Brands don’t control what goes on Tumblr, and she is careful to only accept assignments true to her aesthetic.

“If I am going to work with somebody, it has to be part of my life, something I want to share,” Beck explains. “I can be hired to make banner ads, but I want people to see the whole 360, and hopefully my readers will be amused or inspired.”

More About: coca rocha, fashion, features, jamie beck, juicy couture, kevin burg, trending, tumblr

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Nearly two weeks after Tumblr requested that unofficial browser extension Missing e go offline, the useful utility is planning to make its way back to users.

Missing e is an unofficial browser extension that adds functionality and enhanced features to Tumblr. The ability to reblog yourself, enhance the “Ask” feature and a host of dashboard tweaks are just some of the many features in the extension. Originally, the project started off as a few userscript enhancements, but over time, it evolved into an extension that was frequently updated and frequently developed.

Missing e is one of the few extensions I have installed on every browser on my laptop and iMac. In fact, I like Missing e so much, I reached out to its developer Jeremy Cutler earlier this summer and asked if he would agree to be interviewed for a story on various Tumblr hacks.

Just days before Cutler and I were scheduled to meet in person, Tumblr reached out and asked him to take the extension offline until some issues could be sorted out.

On its face, it looked like Tumblr had problems with the way that Missing e was making some of its API calls, as well as questions about whether or not Missing e followed the guidelines set out in the Tumblr API License Agreement. After Cutler agreed to make changes so that the code was more efficient, as well as removing a feature that would hide the Tumblr Radar, it appeared that the bigger problem, at least from Cutler’s perspective, was the way that Missing e modifies the Tumblr Dashboard for its users. Cutler was left with the impression that without stripping away every feature that would make Missing e useful, he would be unable to satisfy Tumblr.

When we met last week, Cutler opened up to Mashable about some of the technical, ethical and social challenges that have in essence, forced him to throw in the towel on Missing e.

The loss of Missing e wasn’t something that the community took lightly. More than 2,500 users signed a petition to save Missing e and prominent members of the Tumblr community expressed their support for the extension.

Still, Cutler wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue with the project. When we spoke to Cutler last week, the entire issue was still raw. As he wrote on his own Tumblr last week, “it’s hard not taking this personally.”

Tumblr, it turns out, is most responsible for the change in fate for Missing e. You see, earlier this week, some new features made their way into the Tumblr Dashboard. These are features that bore striking resemblance to some of the preferences in Missing e

As Cutler told us via email:

“I had been working a little bit on the code when the mood struck, but when they began releasing features similar to those in Missing e, I have to admit that I got my back up. I am glad that they are trying to improve, whether or not they’ve taken their cues from me. Still, I think the way they’ve implemented these new features leaves a little to be desired. The new release will fix the tag wrapping problem and allow users to make automatic tag reblogging optional.”

At this stage, Cutler is preparing to release a new version of Missing e. This version will not use the API in any way, which to Cutler, should clear him of any violation of the API License Agreement. One of the casualties of not using the API will mean that timestamps on posts in the Dashboard will not supported.

Cutler is also going to remove the popular Follow Checker and Unfollower features from Missing e. As he puts it, “that amount of scraping really isn’t fair to Tumblr’s servers.” And while he expects to lose some users over this feature, he’ll also be getting rid of his biggest source of support queries.

For its part, Tumblr has been quiet regarding the issue. After speaking with Cutler several times last week, the company hasn’t contacted the developer again since the incident received some press attention.

Frankly, as disappointed as we have been that this entire situation has unfolded this way, we’re happy to see that Missing e is going to be back in action. Cutler, who is a software engineer in his day job, is the type of person most companies want as add-on developers.


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We all love Tumblr for its ease of use and unique social blogging features. But we really love Tumblr because the right theme can turn your humble cat musings into sophisticated works of web literature. Just click that “install” button and, “Look Ma, I’m a web designer!” (Our judges would have also accepted, “Mmm, I loves me some gradients.”)

Tumblr’s theme garden grows bigger by the day thanks to the contributions of some premier developers. Whether you’re looking to pimp your existing blog or arrive on the Tumblr scene in style, we thought it helpful to highlight a few of the themes we find beautiful, compelling and feature-rich.

See below for staff-picked Mashable favorites, and let us know which theme(s) you’re using in the comments.

1. Savory

Josh Catone: One of the things that makes Savory so nice is that it clearly defines different Tumblr post types while still cohesively tying them together. It also has a massive amount of customization options and built in support for Disqus and Typekit.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

2. Field Notes

Lauren Rubin: Field Notes FTW. Not only do I love the products, I love how they’ve kept the branding consistent in the digital space.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

3. Plaid

Brenna Ehrlich: The theme that started my hipster media empire.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

4. Brutal Simplicity

Christina Warren: Brutal Simplicity, as the name implies is simple. It’s also elegant and easy to customize.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

5. Chunky

Lauren Drell: I love Chunky, which I use for my typo blog (#nerdalert). For a lot of Tumblrs, you have to keep scroooooolling down to see older posts. For my purposes (flaunting people’s careless spelling on signage), Chunky provides a collage aesthetic that makes the images super easy to consume — barely any scrolling necessary! Plus, I love bright colors, and this theme is “slabby, colorful, fun.”

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

6. Solaris

Matt Silverman: Few Tumblr themes make good use of white space while keeping posts organized. Solaris is modern, super clean, and instantly digestable. Well worth nine bucks.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $9

7. Effector

Christina Warren: Lots of options, color styles and built-in social tools make Effector a great theme to use and tweak.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

8. Chalkdust

Stephanie Buck: I’ve always wanted to paint my apartment walls with that chalkboard paint. The “Chalkdust” Tumblr theme allows me to virtually paint – without inciting the wrath of my landlord.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

9. Rubber Cement

Stacy Green: I love the Rubber Cement theme from SleepoverSF, because thats what I use — in purple of course. 😉

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: Free

10. Storybook

Christina Warren: This illustrated Tumblr theme is just beautiful to look at.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

11. Blank Slate

Christina Warren: Blank Slate indeed! I love the fixed sidebar and the textured background.

Preview it: here.

Install it: here.

Price: $49

More About: blogging, List, Lists, social media, tumblr, tumblr themes, web design, Web Development

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If you want the hands-down, easiest way to embed practically anything on your blog or website, have we got a tool for you!

The nature of the web is such that sharing and republishing content is common — and often even encouraged. The problem is, we increasingly store bits of our data on various services scattered across the web. Aggregating that content into one centralized personal hub can be time consuming — requiring user to manually copy text and links or upload files and photos — or fiddling with RSS feeds trying to make content automagically appear.

Twitter released a very cool tool to allow publishers to embed tweets in their blog posts, but the process is overly complex for most users, with plugins needed to streamline the process. Why can’t you just paste a link to a Twitter status in a blog post or webpage? It turns out, you can.


A Quick Introduction to oEmbed


A technology called oEmbed, in existence for a number of years, was built to solve the embeddable content problem. oEmbed is an open format, designed to let web publishers easily embed content such as photos, video, rich content — and automatically display other content by typing in a URL. Providers like YouTube, Hulu, Flickr and Vimeo all support oEmbed, meaning that pasting a URL for one of those services into a system with oEmbed support should allow users to quickly embed rich media.

WordPress, the world’s most popular CMS, has had basic oEmbed support since WordPress 2.9. Plugins for most other popular platforms exist, too. The problem is, keeping an updated list of the providers that support oEmbed and keeping libraries up to date isn’t a streamlined process.


Embedly: Secret Sauce to Web Embed Fun


In March, we wrote about the startup Embedly, which has developed a platform for converting URLs into embeddable content. Embedly is already in use by companies such as Storify, bit.ly and TweetDeck.

Embedly uses the oEmbed spec to add embed functionality to a growing list of services — 218 at the time of this writing — by interfacing just with the Embedly API.

When we first wrote about Embedly, our post focused on how third parties can use Embedly to provide rich-media previews in their own apps or to create their own embed targets. Embedly Pro also lets its users bring rich embeds to mobile users.

Still, the basic free Embedly service is extremely powerful. In fact, when paired with a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, it makes embedding rich content a snap.


How to Use Embedly


Embedly has libraries available for a host of different client and server-side web languages, including jQuery, Python, Ruby and PHP. For users who don’t want to mess with writing their own tool, Embedly has built its own JavaScript tag and WordPress plugin. Community-developed plugins for Drupal and Joomla also exist.

Since the WordPress plugin was developed by Embedly itself (and we use WordPress at Mashable), here’s a brief overview of how easy it is to use Embedly to bring rich content to your website.

Install the Embedly Plugin

The first step is to download and install the Embedly plugin. Activate the plugin and you can select what services you want to enable from the Embedly menu in the WordPress dashboard.

Embedly frequently updates its service list, and you can run an “update services” command to get access to more libraries.

Paste URLs Into Your Posts

The next step is to simply enter a URL on its own line into your posts or web pages. Each service has slightly different parameters for how URLs should be entered, but in general, the base URL is all that is needed.

To embed a Twitter status update, for instance, you just need to enter in the URL to that update. The Embedly API page has the parameters for each service supported by Embedly.

Enjoy Rich Media Embeds

That’s it. You can now enjoy and share media from 200+ web services across your site.

The Tumblr support is one of my favorite features — simply entering the URL for a post will embed the content of that post. If it’s a photo, the photo is displayed; if it’s a video, you’ll see the video in its player, and so on.

On the Twitter end, Embedly’s Blackbird Pie implementation is a lot easier than any other method we have seen. The company even has basic support for Twitter Photos.

You can take a look at an example page I created using Embedly on one of my test blogs.

More About: embedly, embeds, oembed, tumblr, twitter, WordPress

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It started with a tweet Saturday morning, sounding an alarm of a security breach in the popular microblogging platform Tumblr. “OMG… The Tumbeasts are spitting out passwords!,” it warned.

That tweet spread like wildfire, notifying the world of a coding error that opened a security hole with the potential of revealing users’ passwords, server IP addresses, API keys and personal information.

Fortunately, Tumblr reacted, fixing the problem and then issuing this official message about 5 to 6 hours after the flaw was discovered:

“A human error caused some sensitive server configuration information to be exposed this morning. Our technicians took immediate measures to protect from any issues that may come as a result.

We’re triple checking everything and bringing in outside auditors to confirm, but we have no reason to believe that anything was compromised. We’re certain that none of your personal information (passwords, etc.) was exposed, and your blog is backed up and safe as always. This was an embarrassing error, but something we were prepared for.

The fact that this occurred at all is still unacceptable, and we’ll be seriously evaluating and adjusting our processes to ensure an error like this can never happen again.

Please let us know if you have absolutely any questions.”

What caused the error? That’s still under intense discussion at The Hacker News and elsewhere in the hacker community, but many think the culprit was a errant piece of PHP code. Obviously, spelling counts.

Let us know in the comments if you think those who discovered the security flaw were more eager to broadcast its existence than notify the Tumbler coders who might have been in a position to quickly fix it.

More About: Breach, flaw, php, security, tumblr

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Commercial WordPress theme shop WooThemes launched Thursday a new exporter that makes it easy for Tumblr users to transfer their blog content and media to a self-hosted WordPress.org website.

Thanks to the new Post Formats feature in WordPress 3.1, it’s easier than ever to create a Tumblr-like experience in WordPress. That means post types such as images, links or quotes can be styled and organized in the way that makes Tumblr such a popular tool for bloggers and businesses.

Tumblr is a great service, but downtime issues can be a cause for concern — especially for users who rely on the service to power multiple parts of their website or blog.

It’s true that Tumblr offers a good backup utility for Mac users, but migrating that content to another blog platform — like WordPress — takes a lot more work. Or, at least, it did.

Tumblr2WP.com is a new free service that will quickly generate an XML file that contains all of your Tumblr posts, post types and other important meta data. That content can then be imported to WordPress using the import function on the site.

c to help complement their existing collection of Tumblr-like themes, the WooTumblog plugin and the special (and nifty) iPhone app, Express.

Tumblr2WP works out of the box with the latest versions of the tumblog themes from WooThemes. Users can also add tumblog functionality to their own themes with the WooTumblog plugin.


Getting Set Up


Using the tool is an uncomplicated affair. Just enter the address to your Tumblr domain and choose your export options. Most users can just leave the default options as they are, but Woo also includes the ability to customize permalinks and to determine if comments are enabled or disabled, or if posts should be imported as published posts or as drafts.

The draft option might be a good choice for users who are importing content to a website that already has a significant amount of web content, or for users who want to test how things look before hitting the publish button.

After completing the wizard, the XML file is downloaded from the web browser.

In WordPress 3.1, users just need to go to Tools, then Import and then select “WordPress.” Select the XML file that was downloaded in the web browser. You can choose to assign the posts to an existing post author or assign a new author for Tumblr posts.


Configuring Images


When testing the exporter tool, I ran into a problem with image posts. The fine folks at WooThemes were able to help me sort out the trouble, and here is the next step that most users will need to take in order for images to properly display in posts.

The key is to disable dynamic image resizing.

If you are using the WooTumblog plugin, uncheck the “Enable Dynamic Image Resizer” box in the WooTumblog option panel.

For WooThemes users, uncheck the “Enable Dynamic Image Resizer” box from the “Dynamic Images” menu in the WooThemes option panel.

WooThemes users can also select whether they want to use Post Formats or a simple taxonomy declaration for their tumbled content. The default is to use Post Formats.


The Results


I tested Tumblr2WP on a few WordPress instances on my local server and at http://www.filmgirl.tv, a website I previously configured for use with the WooTumblog plugin and Express app.

The results, after turning off the dynamic image resizer, are stellar. Posts are displayed correctly and in the right format, and elements have carried over correctly from one service to the next.

Tumblr doesn’t have a built-in commenting system, which means that transferring comments from Disqus or another tool will take additional work. For most users, preserving comments from those posts may be more trouble than it is worth. Posts created using WordPress moving forward can use comments in the normal way.


What Tumblr Users Will Lose


For users who are considering moving from Tumblr to WordPress (or any other publishing platform), there are some very cool Tumblr features that just can’t be replicated elsewhere.

This includes:

  • The re-blog button — The ability to easily and seamlessly re-blog content. Tumblr’s “re-blog” button is good enough that other hosted publishing tools (including WordPress.com) have tried to replicate the feature.
  • The bookmarklet — WordPress has a “Press This” bookmarklet but it still doesn’t work as well or as cleanly as the famed Tumblr bookmarklet.
  • The Dashboard — Tumblr’s dashboard is a great way to see posts from users you follow and to get notified when someone hearts or re-blogs your own content.
  • The community — The Tumblr community is special and moving to a self-hosted blog platform, to a certain extent, means giving up that community.

At the end of the day, users need to weigh the pros and cons of controlling their own d
ata and having more backend configuration options with the ease of use and communal spirit of Tumblr. This is a problem I personally still struggle with — which is why I maintain a WordPress blog and a Tumblr account.

Have you contemplated moving from Tumblr to WordPress? What platform do you prefer? Let us know.

More About: blogging, tumblr, tumblr2wp, woo tumblog, woothemes, WordPress

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Who here with a Tumblr blog tags their posts? Hands? Well, you might want to start sweetening up your SEO, as Tumblr has just added a page that organizes posts by tag.

The new Explore page was born due to the rather eclectic nature of many a Tumblr — unless you’re a fashion blogger or something of the like, chances are your content is all over the map, which can make it hard to be seen in the Tumblr Directory.

Explore makes the Tumblr experience more democratic, allowing any tagged post to appear on the page and therefore get eyeballs, according to a blog post. There’s also the Tumblr Wire at the top of the page — reminiscent of “Top Tweets” or trending topics — which displays top tags. You also can track tags to get notifications on your Dashboard.

While this move does add some level of curation to the blogging platform, we mourn the loss (or at least visibility) of the Directory. If there’s an easy way to uncover it, we don’t see it — right now typing in www.tumblr.com/directory seems to be the only way to access it. Moreover, this move still does little to make blogs more visible to those outside the Tumblr community.

Lately, we’ve seen the platform kicking up curation efforts with fashion week coverage and curated topic pages, but we think more could be done to make Tumblr blogs more accessible.

For instance, Tumblr’s homepage exists as wasted real estate — a blank call to sign up that offers very little to those not familiar with the service. Now, if — like Twitter — that page featured some of these popular topics, tags and blogs we can see more blogs gaining attention and more people drawn to the service.

What do you think of the new Explore page? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

More About: blog, tumblr

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