Sustainability of social platforms

December 19th, 2018

There’s a lot of hand-wringing around the changes Verizon corporate is bringing down on the Tumblr communities. People are talking about the freedom of creative expression, the future of safe spaces for fringe interests and the good old days before the engagement-driven ad “opportunities”. Yahoo’s billion-dollar purchase of the not-quite profitable platform was accompanied by grand promises:

We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

In terms of working together, Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love. In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences. The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience.

There’s a certain beauty in the natural cycles of web chaos. And there’s also a big difference between sustained and sustainable. The history so far has shown that it is not a sustainable endeavor to build a popular social platform that is held in high esteem by both users and the market forces. It’s a rather awkward place between being a sustained loss center, and being stuck in a somewhat unsavory self-reinforcing cycle of business decisions that go counter to the whole notion of, well, social.

As for me, with the impending shuttering of Google+, I’ll be writing more right here in my own little web garden.