Oh, man. Blogs are funny. Bloggers are funny. People who blog and own blogs, or blogging platforms, are particularly funny. In this case, we have David Karp, the young high school-dropout wunderkind behind microblogging platform Tumblr. Who looks like this. And ‘stunts’ like this: he supposedly once left a $1,000 tip at Lure Fishbar in SoHo. He is, however, no rapper. In fact, quite the opposite.
Karp’s been digging himself in quite the hole lately, as evidenced by two posts causing a stir amongst his (also mostly white) constituency/readership/user base. Last night, Maureen O’Connor — who’s gone after Tumblr before for taking a user’s domain and giving it to Pitchfork Media — posted an item on Gawker regarding a question Karp posited on his blog: “Can I use the word ‘nigga’ if I’m quoting a song?” O’Connor’s response was hysterical in eight different ways, particularly this:
For the record, the answer is: Only if you divert eye contact, mumble, trail off awkwardly, then send a tweet about how embarrassed you are, so anyone who overheard can retweet it and you can find out if your black friends are mad.
She also noted that a few users quit in a huff and some people have been posting pictures of “black people crying,” which sounds exactly like the kind of nonsense fairly common in the Tumblr community. Of course, he also followed it with this context:
I imagine nobody would suggest it’s offensive for a white person to share the recording (perhaps excluding the RIAA), but printing the word felt different enough to make me hesitate when making a post earlier. Just curious.
But is probably aware that most of Tumblr’s user base — most of whom “follow” Karp’s blog — are young, passionate, sometimes illiterate, and also, as young passionate sometimes illiterate people on the internet are wont to be, melodramatic. Which goes without speaking for the rest of the internet, who’re passionate and illiterate to varying degrees. But this is how they “grow.”
Smartass that he is, Karp followed it up with another post today, excitedly noting of a certain rapper who was incarcerated some time ago: “14 days until T.I. is out of prison!”
Obviously, even talking about another race at this point is going to earn David flack from someone who’s red to the touch. But, comedy of comedies, he even got rapper T.I.’s prison release date wrong. Either way, there’s nothing like stirring up a little trouble to stir up a little publicity, as evidenced by this post. Another fact: people don’t actually quit internet services in protest over any “issue” en masse other than the service not being up to snuff compared to the competition. If that were the case, Facebook would be emptying out over privacy concerns, and everyone would use Bing instead of Google, so on and so forth.
Then again, everyone on the internet’s apparently some kind of casual racist, so there’s that. Karp’s in the clear so long as he doesn’t poach whoever’s squatting Spike Lee’s domain. Then the people are really gonna be “upset.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 12, 2010