Visual blogging used to be the highest form of blogging. Older internet surfers could reminisce on the blackhole-ness of the now-defunct ffffound!. As an invite only service, being able to post _images–and not only browse–was just about as cool as a job at Apple in the late 00’s.
In 2009 Andreas Philstrom (@suprb) started Dropular which brought together a small and committed group of designers to build a competing repo of beautiful graphics, letters and _images (I even developed a small Wordpress plugin for it).
This was all very much influenced by the endless hacking potential of RSS feeds, and in the center of this xml rhizome was of course Google Reader.
I will be remiss if I won’t mention the app I built with Dai Hovey (@14lox), which essentially let you read blogs just by looking at pictures, essentially scraping _images: http://work.byed.it/App-By-Edit (the irony of the fact that I am now a writer is not lost on me)
We tried to later develop this for Tumblr, but various API changes made this too difficult to maintain: http://work.byed.it/Viewr
Instagram is somewhat of an anomaly but an elephant I can’t avoid. In IG _images are soliciting likes, in an effort supported by the platform, which is channeling the flow of ad dollars. To some extent Dropular (as an example) was more of an informal editorial effort, than a social network.
At the core of it, the ‘visual like’ is a very visceral moment for the designer’s work (and image consumption). It needn’t a classification (like Are.na), tagging (like Pinterest) nor social scoring (like IG).
I hope that now that Wordpress owns Tumblr it could be that place.
This was a long winded to say that I am giving my very old Tumblr some attention, maybe you want to follow along
p.s. I suspect that the decline in this form of web use is related to autonomous image making, aggregation and copyright monitoring.