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Ello: Ad-Free Empowerment in the Era of Social Networking

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Yesterday Stuart invited me to try out a Beta version of this new site Ello. My knowledge went no further than a pal mentioned he had applied to join. I thought that sounded rather official for a social networking site, so I decided to investigate.

Ello was started in early July by seven artists/programmers who wanted to integrate their design sensibilities into an ad-free private social site. In creating a completely ad-free site it rids it’s users of being tracked and treated as data or a product. Or even worse by having a social media platform sell your information and demographics without your knowledge!

I love their manifesto and truly believe they are trying to create something different and user driven; “We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.”

Facebook is still seen as the benchmark by which all other networking sites are graded but in recent years and, months even, it’s become more of a customizable billboard where advertisers can lure you away rather than a place to express new ideas or opinions. And honestly it’s become so bad I hardly remember half of what I see and usually forget who I was trying to reach out to.  Ello does state they collect your information but it is in relation to how everyone is using the site and that is used in a much broader sense than collecting data on individual specifics (i.e., gender, employment, marital status, age, etc.).

After playing around with it for a day I still have no idea what I’m doing. Minimalism is in their credo, which don’t get me wrong it makes the site really clean looking. Poking around you’ll figure out how to post, add, and remark. I can see where this site would be amazing for artists/creators to connect and share projects. Much like Tumblr is an easy way for the creative to post their works, Ello makes it easier to share and comment on each other’s content. I can as of right now see where this site would be an absolute godsend for those looking for collaborators on creative endeavors.

What I think is really cool about Ello, beyond it being artistically friendly, you get to see how a site like this is growing each week. Getting to see how it’s being developed and improving based on how it’s being used by its members. You’re driving the creation of this website. There’s even a timeline-esque ‘Feature List’ where you can actually watch them ticking off each new attribute the site will display.

I’m not 100% sold on Ello just yet, because I still thinks it’s not entirely user-friendly and there seems to be a bit of a learning curve. However; I do think there’s mountains of potential here. When you have founders who are wholeheartedly dedicated to creating an unpolluted way of connecting with old and new friends it’s hard to be overly critical.

I for one welcome a social networking site with less noise and more engagement. Ello will certainly be a site to watch the next few months.

Plan on joining ello? Then you can follow all things related to Broke-Ass Stuart at @BrokeAssStuart and follow me at @KittinExploits

image from Come Into Land

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Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Southern hospitality mixed with Northern sensibility. This native Charlestonian is one quirky hobby away from becoming a Wes Anderson character. Fluent in Jack Russell and Sportsball. She can be found perusing your local comic/coffee shops. She is the Managing Editor of BAS-NYC.