Yahoo vows not to “screw it up” with Tumblr
Yahoo is acquiring Tumblr for $1.1 billion cash, a bold bet by Chief Executive Marissa Mayer to revitalize the struggling Internet pioneer by co-opting a Web property with strong visitor traffic but little revenue. The deal will use about a fifth of Yahoo’s $5.4 billion in cash and marketable securities.
“Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,” Yahoo said in a statement on Monday.
Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Well, one thing’s for sure: I plan to continue working from home.
My last post was just a quick tongue-in-cheek response to all the wailing and gnashing of teeth that I’ve seen over the past 36 hours or so from Tumblr users about the many ways in which Yahoo! would destroy Tumblr.
This post is a bit more serious.
If Tumblr is sold to Yahoo! in the near future, I have to be honest and admit that it’s just not going to be a big deal to me. On the one hand, Yahoo! might find ways to improve on my Tumblr experience and, as anyone who reads this blog likely knows, I’ve had some problems with the way Tumblr unveils its updates and deals with massive service interruptions (along with other more minor issues).
On the other hand, if Yahoo! breaks Tumblr (as pretty much everyone thinks is assured), then I’ll just stop using it. I own kohenari.net so I can just keeping writing here and most people who read what I write on a daily basis won’t notice much of a difference. In fact, once all the Tumblr notes and assorted junk disappears, they might just think the interface finally got cleaned up. I’m not sure what would happen to the thousands of Tumblr users who currently follow my blog, but I presume that some of them would continue to read what I write even if — gasp! — they now have to actually point their web browser to my blog instead of seeing it on their Tumblr Dashboard. If I’ve built enough of a “brand” over the past few years, traffic might even pick up a bit since virtually no one from Tumblr ever actually clicks on a link to my blog right now — they just read and share behind the scenes — and they’d have no choice but to actually visit my blog if I leave Tumblr or if Tumblr is wrecked by Yahoo!.
What I’d miss, of course, is the social networking aspect of the website and, in particular two groups of people. The first group consists of the many excellent Tumblr bloggers I’ve gotten to know and with whom I regularly interact. Happily, I’ve become Facebook friends with the majority of these people over the years so I’m sure we’ll continue to communicate and interact with one another even if Tumblr isn’t around in the future or if I’m not using it.
The second group is populated by the wingnuts and trolls who have supplied me with an almost endless stream of material about which I have written these past few years. These are the folks who are planning to outgun the tyrannical American government, who are deeply in love with guns, who are convinced that racism is a thing of the past, who have completely baffling conspiracy theories, who write to me every single day, who are Holocaust deniers, who accuse opponents of the death penalty of racism, who love Slavoj Žižek more than life itself, whose anti-Israel sentiment tends to slide effortlessly into anti-Semitism, and who think that I’m part of a distinct race of Satanists mentioned explicitly in the Bible. If I’m lucky, these folks will follow me wherever I go.
The truth is that Tumblr’s creators are almost certainly going to do what they think is best for themselves — why wouldn’t they?! — and the millions of people who use their service for free are then going to have to decide what they want to do with whatever Tumblr looks like going forward.
Either way, I’m going to be blogging at kohenari.net and my non-Tumblr audience — which is the bulk of my audience — can expect to see very few substantive changes as a result of Yahoo! either buying or not buying Tumblr. If you liked what I’ve been doing, I’ll still be doing it. It’s my Tumblr audience — who might or might not have been paying attention to me all this time anyway — that will need to make some decisions about whether or not to actually visit my blog on a daily or weekly basis if my posts suddenly stop showing up on their Dashboard at some point in the future.
I don’t know anything about Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican representing Texas’ 36th District, but I do know comedy when I see it.
In other news, at what point will Republicans exhaust themselves in their endless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Is it never? If it’s never, just tell me so I can stop paying attention.
Apparently a teacher in Chicago has assigned a paper on the problems with online anonymity, as a whole bunch of people have been reading this old blog post today.
For those folks, and for all of you with an interest in the topic, there’s also this one, this one, and this one.
Also, if you happen to be that teacher, I’ll be really interested to know how much of my blog post your students plagiarized.
Over at Twitter, I’m hard at work on a screenplay. Given how much people like movies about heroes and animals, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make a billion dollars.
If you have good ideas, I’m giving out EP credits.
The answer was 50 minutes.
Interestingly, though, that first email came from the Arts & Sciences Advising Center. Because Nebraska actually hands out diplomas to graduates, rather than mailing them later, the Friday before graduation is a madhouse for them. Professors give provisional grades to graduating seniors a few weeks in advance of graduation in order to flag potential problems; that is, we assign “Worst Case Scenario” grades and then we have to change them once final exams and papers have been graded. This alerts the university to those students who might not be able to graduate and, if professors don’t update the grade quickly enough, the student is informed that (s)he isn’t eligible to graduate.
My grades were submitted, and some students won’t be able to graduate this semester, but I got the email nonetheless.
How to solve this problem? Let all the students walk across the stage, hand them a rolled up piece of paper that says, “CONGRATULATIONS! Your diploma will be mailed to you if you have met all degree requirements. Don’t forget to join the alumni association!,” and then mail all the diplomas to eligible students after graduation.
No students have gotten in touch yet about their grades, but I suspect that I’ll hear from a few over the weekend. With that in mind, one blog reader and Twitter follower asked the following:
does it bother you when students email you after a course asking about their grade? Have you ever felt convinced to change a grade after talking to the student, or is mostly just complaining about wanting a grade they didn’t earn?
It doesn’t bother me one bit. Students should certainly inquire about their grades if they have questions. Of course, “Why did I get a C-” isn’t the best question to ask; there are four major assignments and the way they’re weighted is clearly set out in the syllabus … so a student should be able to figure out why (s)he got a C-. The only thing that might trip up the student is the fifth component, the class participation grade. But, for the most part, students don’t think they participated at the A level when I thought they participated at the C level.
I think I changed a student’s final grade one time over the past decade and it was because I’d clearly entered it incorrectly, transposing the grade with another student’s. I was very grateful to the student for pointing out that she’d done A and B work on her assignments and thus the C- couldn’t possibly have been correct.
Apart from a scenario like this one, I don’t know of a situation where I’d change a student’s final grade. In most of my classes, all that remains at the very end is a final exam. A student might wonder about the grade (s)he earned on that exam, and I’m very happy to tell the student about it and even to meet later to discuss it. (S)he might be surprised to learn that (s)he didn’t do as well as (s)he’d hoped on the final … but it would be difficult for the student to successfully argue a grade change at this point.
This doesn’t prevent some of them from making an attempt, of course …
This week on the Hero Report podcast, we discuss the events immediately following the bombing in Boston and wonder about duty-bound heroism. And I commit to preparing myself to act heroically by signing up for some training. Are you prepared?
Tell us what you think about this episode, discuss these issues with us on Twitter (Matt Langdon / Ari Kohen), and join us every week on Google+ for our live broadcast (where you can chat with us while we’re on the air and contribute to the conversation).
Want to make the podcast portable? Subscribe via iTunes (audio-only).
I don’t think the dictionary really matters that much to CBS Sports commentator Tim Brando. At least not based on anything he wrote during a Twitter tirade today that lasted a few hours and, as I type this, is still going on.
Now, when I think about heroism, as I happen to do as the author of a book and co-host of a podcast on the topic, here’s the sort of thing I have in mind:
People act heroically when they make a potentially life-altering sacrifice or put themselves at some serious risk and they need not have done so. Most often, today, heroes are those whose actions are seen to benefit others; in the classical sense, however, heroism included a broader range of martial actions or feats of endurance that were not necessarily other-regarding.
There’s more to say, obviously, but that’s a quick first pass at a definition. It’s interesting and potentially very fruitful to debate particular heroes and definitions of heroic actions — and, obviously, I’m counting on it for the success of my book — but it’s noteworthy that Brando seems not to have offered a definition at all, despite claiming that his Twitter tirade was all due to his deep care for definitions.
Incidentally, here are the tweets surrounding Ben Shapiro’s heroism tweet.
He’s gearing up to defend himself against allegations of homophobia with the argument that no one’s sexual orientation should matter in our society, that we shouldn’t be paying extra attention to Jason Collins just because he decided to come out, and that telling people you’re gay is just as (un)important as telling people you’re straight … which is pretty much the equivalent of shouting “I’m privileged in every single way possible” from the rooftops.
I’m guessing it’s actually challenging to pretend that you don’t understand the many pressures our society places on black men, on homosexuals, on athletes, and on homosexual black male athletes … especially when you’re as much of a straight, white, well-educated, well-off, bootstrap-self-puller-upper as Shapiro.
Needless to say, he’ll be writing a piece for some right-wing website about how he’s the victim of the Left’s intimidation and silencing tactics — the subject of a whole book he wrote (amazingly, it’s called Bullies) — soon enough.
From Comedy Central’s Indecision Tumblr:
Countdown over! In the category of derpiest comment about NBA pro Jason Collins’ coming out, the winner is Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro:
Hmm, who DOES meet Shapiro’s awfully high Nazi-killing standard for heroism?
Ben Shapiro’s standard for heroism has risen quite a bit since three months ago.
By every conceivable metric, Jason Collins’ decision to become the first openly gay active athlete in a major professional sport meets the definition of a heroic action. By those same metrics — and so many others — Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro is a ridiculous gasbag.
There are, of course, going to be far, far worse responses to Collins. But the anticipation of those don’t make Shapiro’s comments any less foolish.
As a huge fan of the unending foolishness of Sarah Palin, I obviously like everything about this.
How does Palin know the dinner was pathetic? Did she hate-watch it?
And leaving aside Peter Wade’s important note that Palin herself was a guest at various White House Correspondents’ Dinner parties back in 2011, it’s hilarious to note that Palin, who makes it sound here like she’s part of the hard-working “rest of America,” couldn’t make it through a full term as Alaska’s governor and currently doesn’t actually have a job … unless endlessly posting nonsense on Twitter and Facebook is a job.
I’m sure hard-working Americans everywhere are so thankful that this paragon of hard work is in their corner.