Tumblr as Platform Architecture, User Experience, and Interaction Artifacts
Neill, Indira J.C.
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This study of the digital social media platform Tumblr.com that adopts three distinct perspectives in explicating the affordances and constraints that the platform and account holders co-create in patterns of every-day use. These patterns of use are bolstered by the perceived autonomy Tumblr account holders experience when they use the platform when compared to the level of control they perceive when utilizing other “mainstream” social media platforms (typically Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). Using a social construction of technology framework, Tumblr’s “About Tumblr” pages, accessible at the time of signing up for a new account are considered as documentation of platform explications placed upon the potential platform user. These expectations are then compared to existing Tumblr features as they are utilized by account holders. Interviews were conducted with 14 Tumblr “fandom” users, individuals whose Tumblr practice is rooted at least partially in the production and sharing of fan fiction, fan art, or discussion of popular media objects. Participants were asked about their day-to-day Tumblr use and experiences, as well as specific questions regarding their initial decisions to join Tumblr and begin blogging, how they make decisions regarding who to Follow and what to share on their blogs, privacy concerns and conflicts with other Tumblr users, and their overall sense of “the Tumblr community.” Finally, discourse analysis is used to explicate three specific Tumblr posts that are demonstrative of a larger trend on Tumblr of combining fandom materials and feminist concerns.