is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
We just relaunched the Mixel blog yesterday along with a refresh of our main Web site. The main goal was to bring the look and feel of both in line with one another and, specifically for the blog, to create a more editorial-friendly presentation. As I explained in this post, the Mixel blog turned out to be a more text-intensive product than we anticipated, and so we needed a design that would accommodate that. We also needed to switch to a publishing tool that was more suitable for that kind of content. Tumblr wasn’t doing it for us.
I wrote about Tumblr a while ago with great admiration in this blog post, and I still think it’s an amazing company and one of the best social content products out there. As a ‘traditional’ blogging tool though, I’m more ambivalent about it.
The Writing Kind of Blogging
It’s true that many folks, like my friend Cameron Moll, use Tumblr to publish their text-heavy blogs and are very happy with it, and so I don’t argue that it can work great for this purpose. But we found it to be less reliable than we’d like; the editing interface is unpredictable, to put it politely.
To be fair, we were also using it in a way that wasn’t a truly good fit for what Tumblr is good at; the first rule of digital content is that it must be true to the native characteristics of its delivery channel, and we weren’t doing that. We’re not giving up on Tumblr though; its network effects are truly amazing, and we have some ideas for a different editorial product that will hopefully be a much better fit for that network.
In place of Tumblr, we’re now using a WordPress blog hosted over at Page.ly. The theme was developed by my friend and amazing WordPress guru Allan Cole. In spite of having developed a premium WordPress theme of my own (Basic Maths, which was designed and developed with Allan), I’ve never been a heavy WordPress user until now. I have to admit, its most recent version is full of the fun, geeky features that I like as a blogger, stuff that allows designer-editors to fully tweak the way content is output. It’s great.
Other Stuff Posted at Other Places
All this fooling around with hosted publishing solutions has reminded me that Subtraction.com is getting long in the tooth, and very much represents an old school way of thinking about blogs. (It’s published with ExpressionEngine, which is quite powerful but has been trying to rejuvenate itself after some recent stumbles.) In fact, I’ve always wanted to fold Tumblr-like features into this site, and have played on and off with both Tumblr and Posterous for several years to see what those modes of blogging feel like.
My Tumblr experiments have largely been for naught, but I took to Posterous pretty well and have kept two blogs there for some time, more or less privately. I’ve been writing a log of really short (and, be prepared, somewhat stuffy) reviews of movies I’ve recently viewed at delayedreaction.posterous.com. And I have an ongoing image blog at Subtraction.posterous.com, where I collect a bunch of somewhat Subtraction-y images that don’t quite fit into this main blog.
The latter blog has been really interesting to curate, because it bleeds over to the stuff I’ve been keeping at Pinterest too. My boards at Pinterest are not a form blogging, necessarily, but they’re very similar to the image collecting and curating that I do at Posterous, yet even further afield from what I would normally post on Subtraction.com. (By the way, we’re collecting lots of really amazing work from Mixel on these Pinterest boards.)
Of all of these third party services, I feel least inclined to bring the activity from Pinterest back under the Subtraction.com umbrella, mostly because it’s the least blog-like. But what I’m doing on my two Posterous blogs, as well as what I would theoretically do at Tumblr, is very much the stuff that I would like to integrate into this site, if I had the time. Ultimately, I think I’m just the kind of user who will always want everything blog-like to be clearly a part of this blog, hosted on my own server, customized just the way I want. It’s not the trend of things in the world at large now, I know, but even bloggers get old.+