News

POV: Ello

Background

A recent outrage by some users alerted by Facebook's real name policy, several cloud hacks and Google and other tech companies being pointed as having a business model that profits on user data, generated a window of opportunity for the public's awareness of a new social media platform model, the "anti-data" and "pro-privacy" social network: enter Ello. The basic premise behind the founding of Ello is to answer the public demand with an alternative to Silicon Valley's traditional business model of building a platform and then trading on the data generated by its users actions and interactions.  Ello is then an experiment (currently in beta) in creating a social network that does not intend to benefit from the direct monetization of its user's actions as a main business goal.

Implications

According to Jim Edwards: "If you're not paying for it, then you are the product," its the common mantra of the tech world. (Business Insider, Sept. 16, 2014) "Your social network is owned by advertisers". -Ello manifesto Ello claims that every action taken by users on a social network ends up being potentially used in the purpose of showing more and better targeted ads. The manifesto continues: "You are the product that's bought and sold". Originally built by artists and programmers as a private network it presents itself as a social networking solution coming from a higher ground of moral and ethical purity that leaves current and traditional silicon valley ad supported models as lowly and mundane. As such, it speaks to an audience of the artsy and the alternative, the irreverent and the non-conventional, in a way that Google+ or any other social network ever did.

Details

In order to manage demand it was released as an invitation only network, much in the same fashion that Google+ did years ago, creating an aura of scarcity among the early adopter and digital adventurer public. Earlier this year (Aug.2014), ello had about 90 users, since then, it has reached a healthy 40-50,000 invite requests per hour, according to founder Paul Budnitz, also the founder of designer toy manufacturer and retailer: kidrobot.  Ello is completely free to use for its users, however, Ello does not sell ads, and it does not intend to sell data on user actions to third party companies. "We dislike ads as much as anyone else out there... ads are tacky ...they insult our intelligence ...we're better without them" claims the website.

Summary

Ello is not for everyone or every brand, but it's time to get to know it and experiment with it in this early stage. - For now there are some brands and media already starting to experiment with the platform like: Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian. - It could be an environment to explore ideas (for use with brands) with informed, design conscious and opinionated audiences. - Seems to be waiting for social or politically charged movement to help it gather widespread traction worldwide. - On the pipeline coming soon they promise rich media commenting, re-posts, notifications, video integration with YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo and Vine), apps (yes, there are no apps), among other interesting future developments with potential brand interaction use. - Beyond this basic pipeline of basic development features, Ello's management also announced "special features" that they will be rolling out as part of a kind of subscription model that will support and fund the platform.