While Tumblr is a blogging platform, Are.na is a tool for collecting and connecting content with other people. If you're totally unfamiliar, the basic model is more similar to Pinterest.
Are.na lets you build collections of content called "channels" by adding links and files of any kind. Things get interesting when you connect one channel to another, or one piece of content to many channels at once. By allowing these "many-to-many" connections, Are.na lets people put ideas in new contexts and build networks of shared, visual associations. It's a little bit like reblogging, but with a "board" layout rather than a feed.
You can build channels on Are.na in public or in private. You can invite specific people to collaborate with you, or leave them open so anyone else on Are.na to contribute. Are.na has a friendly atmosphere of thoughtful curiosity.
Here's a 1-minute overview of Are.na:
What can I do with Are.na?
Are.na is perfect for collecting, organizing, and connecting groups of content. If you make boards for creative projects, Are.na will help you organize what you already have and find new inspiration. Like Tumblr, the range of what people get into on Are.na is really broad: if you collect anime screenshots or articles about climate change or 2000s hip hop music videos or anything else that satisfies your curiosity, it's a thoughtful environment for storing your content and learning more.
Are.na also helps you structure your thoughts and learn by making new connections between ideas. Everything on Are.na lives in a clean, visual layout. You can connect any piece of content from one channel to another, making it easy to look at things from multiple perspectives. Many different people can create channels together, turning fuzzy intuitions into shared ideas.
Teachers use Are.na to share readings, references, assigments, and more. Creative people use Are.na to find images, make mood moards, and share resources. Writers and researchers use Are.na to gather articles and bodies of knowledge in a flexible, shareable format. Most of our members spend time contributing to other people's channels and linking what they find on Are.na to their own.
What can't I do with Are.na?
Are.na isn't designed for blogging. There are no posts on Are.na like there are on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Instead, your Are.na profile is a group of visual collections and your feed shows what your contacts are adding to their own collections. If you use Tumblr to post chronological updates for your audience, you might use Are.na to gather content but you'll probably want a dedicated editorial platform like Svtble or Medium or Wordpress to actually publish.
There is no direct messaging on Are.na. You can add blocks of text to your channels and you can comment on other people's content, but the main actions are adding media and connecting it from one channel to another.
Authorship is a little fuzzier on Are.na than on a blogging platform. Any content that's visible on Are.na can be added to another collection by any other member. Your metadata and ownership will still be attached, but it your content will appear in the context of a new collection rather than in a reblog thread.
What kind of company is Are.na?
Are.na is ad-free and supported by our Premium members. That means we have no incentive to coopt your attention or monetize your personal information and data. Our success relies 100% on how well we serve our members, not third parties.
We don't have likes, follower counts, or recommendations either. We're not trying to profit from our members' popularity or drive traffic to certain kinds of content and away from others. We simply believe in carving out a more mindful space on the web where you can think clearly and learn with other other people.
We're an independent company, founded by artists, trying to build a more ethical model for the social web. This spring we raised money from many of our longtime users and other likeminded, regular people on the internet. Our goal is to grow sustainably and cultivate community over the long term.
You can read a little more about our ethos here.