Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on Posterous, Tumblr and Amplify

For a couple of months now I've been trying out Posterous and Tumblr,and was recently reminded that I had tried something on Amplify a year ago, but forgotten that I belonged to it, so I had another look at that too.

I can't say that I'm fully au fait with any of them yet, and I certainly haven't discovered how to use all their features. I'm quite unqualified to write a manual on how they should be used. So why am I writing about them here?

I'm writing this because I suspect that there are a lot of people like me who are not fundies about this stuff, and yet would like to be able to use it and know what it is good for.

I've found that some things are easier than others, and things that are easy in some programs are more difficult in others.

In general, I've found Tumblr is good for gathering, and Posterous for scattering.

I use Tumblr mainly as a kind of blog aggregator. It gather stuff from various blogs that I write, and it publishes a summary. I can grab interesting stuff from the web and put it on Tumblr, and it passes that on to Twitter as well. So I say to people, if you want to follow me, follow me on Tumblr rather than Twitter. You can see summaries of my various blog posts, and if any of them look interesting, you can click on them and see the whole thing. Tumblr acts like a published set of journal abstracts -- you can look through it to find which articles might be interesting without having to read the whole thing. To me that makes more sense than an RSS feed of full blog posts, which seems to me to be the surest way to information overload. Tumblr lets you see what's available and pick the stuff you want to read.

Posterous seems to work best the other way round. It lets you input by e-mail, and then disseminate widely from there. Its e-mail input seems to work better than Tumblr, and lets you include pictures, documents, and text in the message body. In Tumblr this is more difficult, but Tumblr picks up stuff from Posterous nicely, including documents (.pdf and several other formats).

I've been using Posterous mainly for family history, and it posts stuff to our family history blog on Wordpress with no problems, as well as passing it on to Tumblr.

Our former bishop sent me a document the other day, and asked me to put it on the web for him. It was called "The responsibility of Orthodoxy in 2011". Well, I put it on a static web page (here, if anyone is curious), but it's not really the kind of material that suits a static web page. I had no hesitation in recommending Posterous to him, as it would be ideal for his purpose. All he needs to do is to e-mail the document as an attachment in .pdf, .rtf or .doc format, with his own comments, and Posterous does the rest. And when he wants to write another document in 2012 or 2013, Posterous handles that too.

Posterous has other things that don't work too well, or at least not for me.

They've just introduced a group feature, and as an experiment I started one just for our family. It works more or less like the regular Posterous, except each member of the group may contribute and it can be a private or public group. Only problem is, I can't read it. It shows a list of posts, but when you try to open any of the posts to read them, nothing happens. There's just a big blank white square on the screen, like this:

I think something is supposed to appear in that blank white area, but it doesn't.

And the same thing happens when you try to grab something off the web to post on Posterous -- a blank white area appears on the screen and a little turning thingy that says "Loading", and that's it. You can go and make a cup of coffee, or a three-course meal, and when you come back it's still "loading". And the one on Amplify seems to have similar problems. But the one on Tumblr works OK, so I'll carry on using that.

Well that's it so far. Posterous is good at one to many. Tumblr is good at many to one. I'm not sure what Amplify is good for yet.