Tumblr blast from the past

I took a moment today to revisit the two Tumblrs I was running several years ago. Both had a strong visual component.

One is called postwarjapan and has been running mainly from 2013-2015. Over that span of time, I put up ca. 2,000 images from the thirty years between 1945-1975. Besides creating a big repository of pictures from this period, I also tried to bring some order to the collection via tags. I wrote about that Tumblr in more detail on my blog in 2015.

I must have spent countless hours doing this back then, satisfying some a passion for collecting, even if it were immaterial objects. It was also a great way to transport me back to the time period I was researching for my PhD.

The other Tumblr — Yangon Architecture — is almost a clone of the Yangon Architecture Facebook group¬†which we used to crowdsource elements of our book research back then. The fun part was using Manu’s photos and complementing them with information-packed captions.

Both Tumblrs allowed me to create novel collections from scratch and add information as I went along. Running them gave me a structured way to simultaneously be serendipitous and slowly build up the substance for the work I would embark on.

With most of my brain juices flowing into my daytime job and the occasional Tokyo research project (not to speak of parenting responsibilities!), there simply isn’t much time left for this kind of work today.

But that’s OK.

Collecting is an amazing hobby while one is doing it. Another big allure is a collection’s ability to take you back every once in a while. You look at your old work and refresh memories a particular time’s state of mind.

I recall having a similar feeling with my stamp collection that I had when I was seven or eight. To this day, I can remember the haptics of that big book I so treasured, and the feeling of traveling around the world in my small room in Berlin. Every couple of years I hold it in my hands, and it never fails to evoke emotions.

The Tumblr collections, in contrast, live somewhere in the cloud today. I hope the transience of the web will not mean that the site goes offline one day, and takes all the memories and dedication with it!

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