Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, is spending $1.1 billion to buy Tumblr, a social networking blog system that allows users to share text, photos, quotes, music, links and video. Tumblr brings a lot to Yahoo’s news table, as it hosts 108.7 million blogs that garner more than 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 new users every day. Users can easily and quickly blog just about anything without needing to know anything about programming. And, as retweets are to Twitter, reblogs are to Tumblr, making it easy to share items found around the Web with your readers.
But if you’re one of those 120,000 users, how do you know where to find good fodder for reblogging? How do you know whom to follow? To help you answer those questions, I’ve curated my favorite 15 sources, which range from the comedic and the educational to the entertaining and the artistic.
Texts from Super Heroes
Imagine X-Men Rogue and Gambit planning a sexy evening together via a series of text messages, or Robin making an Adobe Flash joke with superhero Flash on his smartphone. If the idea of Electro explaining the Urban Dictionary definition of Shocker’s name to his friend via SMS makes you gut laugh, then this is the Tumblr for you. Texts from Super Heroes, run by comedians Diana McCallum and Andrew Ivimey, imagines text message exchanges from all sorts of heroes, from Batman to Captain Kirk.
The most brilliant mashup I’ve seen in years, Arrested Westeros combines quotes from the sitcom "Arrested Development" with screen shots from "Game of Thrones." I think it’s virtually impossible to go wrong with a Bluth-Stark Family combo. Creator Emily Hummel forms some fairly mind-blowing parallels between the various scheming groups to hilarious ends. I’m embarrassed to say that without this, I never would have connected a handless Jamie with a handless Buster without seeing it here. We also love the anti-spoiler policy that requires that no new episode content can be used for a mashup until the Tuesday after an episode of "Game of Thrones" airs.
As the "about us" page says, this quote-based Tumblr is dedicated to “Good science, badly quoted.” The idea is that, by removing facts from their full scientific paper context, you can often find funny and bizarre statements. One of my favorites of late: “Scientists have long struggled to find physiological signs that can reliably tell “ouch” from “@#%!”
The guidelines for this site are fairly strict and straightforward; quotes must come from peer-reviewed articles, citations cannot fall behind a paywall, technical science terminology is to be avoided and the science should be recent. What I like most about this one is that when my curiousity is piqued, I can click on the source to read the actual context.
Purely silly and often ROFL funny, Animals Being Dicks offers up a collection of ridiculous gifs of animals being jerks. If it doesn’t have you in tears in minutes, then you have no heart. But beware, this Tumblr will suck you in and not let you out as you flip through GIF after GIF of the dog tearing down the blinds and running around wearing them as a necklace, a pet ferret having what appears to be an emotional seizure, a turtle biting a dog’s tongue and not letting go or a dolphin trying to eat a child’s arm. It’s sort of like a car wreck; you simply have to slow down and just look ... for hours.
The tagline, “Stories from The Onion as interpreted by Facebook,” tells you quite a bit about this Tumblr. Literally Unbelievable highlights those simpletons who have been caught on Facebook believing something from The Onion. Among the top posts is an assertion that Instagram belongs to Facebook, which is owned by the CIA and the belief that Osama bin Laden is still alive. This funny and sad commentary on humanity's gullibility is run by freelance writer and humorist Hudson Hongo. Some things he finds himself and some come from submissions from his followers.
Images of space are always nothing short of breathtaking. Beautiful Mars builds on this fact by taking images and posts from HiRISE, the high-resolution camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and showing them off here with a brief explanation. This shot shows the Enigmatic Surface in Cerberus Palus.
Some of the more graphically enticing images show the dunes on the floor of a crater in Noachis Terra and the steep slopes of Asimov Crater. And when you’re done ogling these beauties, you can jump over to our sister site Space.com for more beauty in the heavens.
Children baffle me. I have none of my own, but have cared for enough little people to know that sometimes they cry for no good reason. The incredibly patient father who started this sensational collection of photos with the reasons his son started crying recently ran a reader submission photo contest, and those are sweet, and precious and absurd. However, it’s his pictures of his son crying because the slide isn’t slippery enough, or that his brother’s boots don’t fit or that the milk was in the wrong cup that really made us giggle.
As a journalist, I fit the norm; I’m terrible at math. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love numbers. I Love Charts explores society, culture, personality quirks and much more through graphical representation. Sometimes artistic and sometimes fact-filled, the charts can be categorized by several tags; funny, informative, topical, cool, beautiful and homemade.
For instance, under the Funny tag, I particularly like a diagramed "Hello My Name Is" sign reworked to show the lyrics to Eminem’s "Slim Shady." The site is run by two friends, who also let their friends take over from time to time as Chartists in Residence. The two have combined to turn their passion into a book as well.
Did you know that “Benedict Cumberbatch recorded his screen test for ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ in his best friend’s kitchen using an iPhone”? Neither did we until we received our Nerdy Fact 828 on May 17.
If you only have seconds to scan a Tumblr, Nerdy Facts can still pack a punch. The site delivers a nerdy fact like the one above twice each day. Organized into loose categories, you’ll see random facts, as well as facts about film, TV, comic books and video games.
This collection of antiquated ads, illustrations and photographs will appeal to anyone with a sense of history and a sense of humor. One photo we love on this site shows Muhammad Ali, Hulk Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, Liberace and Wendi Richter in full '80s fame. The professional costume designer who runs Weird Vintage hopes they will “make you just a tad bit confused/alarmed/amused.” Oh, and some are NSFW.
As a poet and an editor, the flow of words inspires me. If you’re anything like me, the simple beauty and provocativeness of Google Poetics is worth a daily perusal. This Tumblr — no affiliation with Google — discovers poems written based purely on Google auto-fill.
For instance, “Don’t ever try/Don’t ever try to teach a pig to sing/Don’t ever try to understand everything/Don’t ever try to judge me dude.” These short pieces reflect the collective psyche of the Internet, because they are based on the algorithm anticipating what we want to find based on what other people wanted to find. This Tumblr has been collecting Google Poems since October 2012, and is based in Nelsinki, Finland. Submissions are invited by readers.
“A study of people and objects that make the kingdom of nerd fun and exciting. From robots and lasers to incredible Star Trek gift sets.”
It’s tough to imagine a better descriptor than Nerdology’s tag line. Run by Creighton DeSimone, a former editor at GamerNode and current producer at College Humor, Nerdology features news, videos, photos and more on topics that range from "Star Wars" to "Legend of Zelda." There’s even a whole stream on Awful Nerd Shirts that pictures the editor in his fairly large collection of shirts that proclaim his nerdom. If you find nerdiness as sexy and playful as I do, you’ll quickly be hooked.
Basically, 8Bit Future is a news site for all things technology, gaming and science. Based in Christchurch, New Zealand, this Tumblr has garnered 145,000 followers since 2010. I enjoy stopping by to see how tech is being interpreted down under. Among the top stories you’ll find are pieces about bacteria that produces gold, images of a black hole destroying a star and one of my favorites — an 8-bit infographic of the "Back to the Future" movies.
Remember when QR Codes were cool? Innovative placement and uses actually got me excited. But that time has come and gone. WTF QR Codes proudly celebrate the ridiculousness that QR Codes have become. Hopefully some companies might read this Tumblr and take the hint that putting a QR code on a hole-filled grate where it is unscannable isn’t smart. And I hope the company that put a QR code on the "contact us" page of its website — pointing back to the "contact us" page of its website — is duly shamed. If you happen to see nonsensical QR codes, please submit them here.
As a devotee of Neil Gaiman’s work, this is a must-follow for me. How can you not want to know what the author of "Coraline," "The Graveyard Book" and two "Doctor Who" episodes thinks? Gaiman humbly says in the site’s description that this official site is no better than the unofficial Tumblrs out there. We have to disagree
True fans can send in questions and sometimes he’ll answer. In fact, in response to one reader asking “Is this really Neil Gaiman?” he responded “I do not know. Some days I’m pretty sure it is. Other days I just wonder who any of us really are.” That’s simply an awesome response. And then there are the photos he posts and updates he gives on his latest work. And yes, I will be standing in line when Gaiman’s book "American Gods" comes to the big screen.
Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking, tablets, chromebooks and accessories. She loves each of her devices equally, including the phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor