Follow my regular postings on why and what I’m getting involved with in the growing movement known as ''Minimalism” and for some insight into why and how I think it’s the best alternative way forward for many other people too. There will be some surprises - not least to myself - because the existing lifestyles of much of the population cannot continue at the present uncontrolled rate of consumption, waste and destruction... our Mother Earth simply cannot sustain it!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

#06 - Do you Tumble for everyone at first sight?

24 Citrus Fruit Wrappers... Just too many?

Or Did I Stumble at the First Slight?

I got “Un-followed” a couple of days ago by a Tumblr regular with close to 2,500 followers after I pointedly disliked one of his reblogged items (to me, a zero interest poorly exposed and composed photo he found somewhere on the web) and about which I sent him a personal letter explaining why I thought too much rubbish was being re-circulated. I suggested it would make a great discussion thread open to all. I never heard back… was promptly delisted… but remain here, open-minded and free to talk.

Anyway… I’ve made more than 50 posts in less than two weeks of being on Tumblr and am starting to feel the need to draw back and reconsider where I’m going and, importantly, what I’m gaining from searching-out others’ posts in the Directory, whether they be photos, artwork, graphics, calligraphy, videos or quotes… or, from being showered by offerings from people I follow, be they original or reblogged posts.

And for me there lies a dilemma… do I gain more from my own chosen searches and self-edited results, and/or do I gain enough by being surprised by the multiple item posts made and sent to my Dashboard by people I have chosen to follow.

And there’s another angle to consider because I increasingly look at who has liked a post I’ve liked… and so click on their pseudos to see what they’re producing themselves. If it is visually exciting, original work then I’ll almost certainly follow them. I don’t expect them to like my original offerings – if they just happen to want to see who the hell I am amongst sometimes hundreds of other instant fans, then fine, I appreciate their time and curiosity in doing so – but I don’t hope or expect they’ll reciprocate with a follow too. Why should I? Vanity?

Following it or wallowing in it?

I’ve noticed that some people make a point of writing on their page that they almost always follow when followed… but I feel that’s just being polite in an awkward response to being followed – which doesn’t seem rational at all – and automatically opens you to receiving content from people who liked you first but who may have entirely different ideas, views, visual stimulus, standards and language to your own. What’s the point? Numerical bragging rights? Think it will impress a potential employer on your CV?

There has to be a limit to the visual information one can absorb from so many followers… even followers who you really dig. And I think it worth while to mention the first two points made by Everett Bogue in his minimalist blog “Far Beyond The Stars” where he wrote…

    “Follow less than 150 people. Your human brain can’t breathe if you exceed that limit. Less is always more. Start large, but work your way down, not up.”
    “It’s a river, you can’t drink it all.”

He was not talking about following on Tumblr, but on Twitter, which is a not dissimilar internet phenomenon.

Usage and Abusage

As I’m a bit new to this type of social networking – I can’t grasp fully what he was implying concerning Twitter… and anyway I canceled my account after a few days of being numbed by the garbage being spouted and the unenforced abuse of the English language, spelling and punctuation. God help future generations if “Twitter speak” is what they use and judge as their learning curve.

But I’ve lasted longer on Tumblr, and Everett has a point. I greet, talk with and know far more people daily through of living in a small town (despite it being in a country foreign to my birth and one where I had to learn the language) than I did when residing and working in Manchester (where I was born) or London, a city of now more than 12 million people of an amazingly mixed and interesting culture.

And I’m getting to know the work of a select few people I follow here on Tumblr. I doubt if I will ever achieve the heady heights of 150 followers, but if I do I will feel slightly nervous and somewhat faux because I couldn’t ever honestly say I’d be more than peripherally in touch with many of them… it’s simply too large a number. Actually, that number of 150 (max) on Tumblr can be catered for if they only post regularly a couple of times (max) a week… but it’s too many followers if they habitually post a dozen reblogged photos a day!

I’ve also been on (and frequently off) Facebook for a couple of years and sometimes feel that my current 75 Friends, including children and grandchildren scattered across the continents, is perhaps 7.5 times too many… but that’s another story!

Keep It Simple Stupid

However, in his “The Art of Minimalism“ blog, Mike Donghia writes in an article “Facebook Made Simpler”…

    “People across the world spend over seven hundred billion minutes a month on Facebook. That’s the equivalent of 1.3 million years spent perusing the status updates, photos, and links of our friends and their friends.”
    “If we’re not mindful of how we use this powerful tool, it will become just another source of noise in our lives. Another distraction that keeps us from creating, playing, building and really living.”

Further in he writes…

    “Scientific studies at Oxford University show that humans can only manage a network of 150 friends. Un-friend anyone you haven’t contacted in the last year and focus on quality relationship over quantity.”

So there we have that 150 number again! I know Facebook, Tumblr, et al thrive on numbers – big numbers – but I feel one day they will be seriously reduced in their appeal – and maybe ultimately taken over having slumped in vogue and value – because of the enormous volume of nothingness (or crap, to put it less politely) that is blogged, followed and reblogged. There has to be – no, there should have been – a numerical limit to the number of posts made per person per day. It would have concentrated the minds of posters and probably produced better quality overall with more items actually worth following.

Edit... Edit... Edit...

As another example of this dilemma, I have several thousand images with the on-line photo agency Alamy which has left it too late to introduce editing to their content. The result is that a small but growing proportion of their 21 million images is boringly repetitive, image-wise, and generally unusable for the media despite being from photographers who have satisfied the agency’s criteria for providing technically excellent image files… as if accurate sharpness, good exposure and correct color was ever going to guarantee interesting content and composition!

Before winding up I want to say that having just, for the first time, reblogged an item (part of an early interview with a young Steve Jobs of Apple), and despite feeling that the reblog was really interesting, I am going to vow NOT to reblog anything else again (apart from quotes I’ve written down in notebooks in the past) and only post my own original photos, artwork and writings no more than a couple of times a day. That’s enough for any of my followers to cope with… and they might study those fewer posts perhaps for a little longer and reply with comments critical or otherwise… but at least in a way to stimulate interest, knowledge, understanding, conversation and even friendship.

BTW: By co-incidence, Mike Donghia of "The Art of Minimalism" asked this week... "If you have a blog, write a post about what’s next for you in 2011". Consider the above article one of my concerns and appropriate responses  ;~)