Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

David Karp discusses Tumblr’s growing pains

Anthony De Rosa
Sep 8, 2011 16:09 UTC

The very platform this post is appearing on is undergoing a bit of a revolution. The rise of blogs over the past decade has begun to give way to microblogging platforms, such as Twitter and Tumblr. The difference between the two is that microblogs tend to rely heavily on short bursts of information: links, photos, videos and brief messages. Blogger fatigue gave way to sharing smaller, less labor intensive bits of content.

The short timely updates have not gone unnoticed. Twitter has become something of a wire that provides up to the second reports about breaking news from around the world, used by both large traditional news outlets and freelance reporters. Tumblr is used by ABC journalist Matthew Keys for, among other topics, coverage of the Japan earthquake, which was recognized with a nomination by the Online News Association for the best breaking news by a small site. Until recently, Keys was a freelancer, but his online reporting on microblogging platforms drew attention and led to his recent hire by ABC.

While Twitter’s membership rate grew 26% over the past year, according to Search Engine Journal, Tumblr’s rate has been equally, if not more impressive. According to ComScore, Tumblr attracted 13.4 million visitors in July 2011, up 218% from a year ago (4.2 million in July 2010) along with a staggering 2.5 billion page views per month. 12.5 billion page views per month (according to Quantcast) With tremendous growth comes growing pains, as Twitter once experienced with their own pre-2008 downtime issues.

Now, Tumblr is starting to recover. So I sat down with Tumblr’s founder David Karp, pictured above, last week to discuss how the company has improved. It was readily apparent that the number of hires they’ve made since the last time I visited the office had increased significantly. Karp told me they added 20 engineers in the past year: “Infrastructure is much further along now. We’ve paid down many technical debts to allow ourselves to scale. We’ve created a more distributed, resilient infrastructure.”

As a long-time Tumblr member, I experienced the infrastructure buckling under the demand firsthand. Out of frustration, I vowed to scale back my use of the service until it became more stable. Stability has been one issue with Tumblr, but other issues have crept up as well. Several brands have publicly aired their displeasure with how the company has handled partnership opportunities. One reason that may be the case is because there is no formal process yet for partnerships. Says Karp:

How Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account could have been hacked

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 2, 2011 14:56 UTC

Anthony Weiner is about as uncensored online as he is offline. But is he really bold enough to post a photo of himself sans pants over a Twitter account?

I’m less interested in the politics of the matter than the technical evidence that could show whether the congressman sent the photo himself or if it was sent by someone else. Over the weekend, I posted my analysis on the authenticity of the photo behind the scandal. Weiner’s friend and former “freeloading” roommate, Jon Stewart, used my post from the other day on The Daily Show to illustrate some of the methods for how the congressman could have had his account hacked. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Every photo tells a story

Within just about every digital photo, there are clues left behind called “metadata” that identify the make and model of the camera used, the time the photo was taken and sometimes even the location the photo was taken at. I ran one of the earlier photos that Anthony Weiner had taken through several tools (here is one you can try yourself) that look at the “exif data” within the photo. Here was the result from this photo:

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