We Are What We Share, Says Tumblr's Lead Designer

Just as sharing things in real life, like clothes and music, help us define who we are, a community-based online ethos could overcome the narcissism which people accuse the Web of facilitating.

What's the Latest Development?

You might expect the lead designer of Tumblr to espouse the virtues of limitless creativity, but in fact, Peter Vidani feels at the top of his game when there are boundaries to work within. They represent a challenge to accomplish more with less, he said, referring to making a Tumblr app for the iPad: "It was an opportunity for us to start fresh with the hierarchy and the aesthetic of some pieces. We did a lot of stuff that we should carry back to the site. When you work in those sort of restrictions you get clever." Vidani also suggests cross-departmental conversations so that engineers and designers can improve their work through collaboration. 

What's the Big Idea?

Despite past philosophies of immutable souls, today's concept of identity relies more than ever on what we share online, even though our memes seem increasingly transitory and ephemeral. "But are we the things we share? That's a big question. In real life, that could hold up. ... I don't think anyone can create a new de facto way to represent identity, but we can get closer and closer to how we're getting along in real life." And just as sharing things in real life, like clothes and music, enriches our culture, understanding that identity is created through interaction with others could stem the narcissism the Web is often accused of facilitating. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


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