What Ello is to Me

Bob Ello

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs

Nathan Jurgenson is getting a lot of attention today for asking what was Ello? Link baiting headlines always seem to drive the most traffic.

This is what Ello *is* to me.

The other day I was having a friendly debate (on Facebook of all places) with my good friend Robert Scoble, about why I participate so heavily on Ello and not so much on Facebook. Robert told me that I should post what I write, or at least links to it, on Facebook.

I do post links to some of my Ello stuff on Facebook, but I don’t really participate on Facebook much except maybe to check in with a few friends who are on there from time to time. I do post to Facebook every day still, but I view Facebook mostly as a distribution channel for my photography and less as a social network to engage in. I post my work to a lot of places where it’s just meant to be displayed and enjoyed, but 95% of my interaction online these days is at Ello.

I’ve been thinking a bit today about why I like Ello so much more than the other social networks and because I like to make lists, I thought I’d share 8 reasons why I’m really digging Ello right now.

1. I have never met as quirky, creative, intelligent a group of people as I have on Ello.

I have participated *heavily* in social networks for over a decade. I was on Flickr the year it started. I was on Twitter the year it started. I was on Google+ the hour it started (and Google Buzz before that). I was an early friendfeed users before it was shuttered to Facebook. I would have been on Facebook earlier than I was, but back in the early days it was only for college students — but I set up a Facebook account once I could.

Elllo reminds me a lot of the good ol’ super early days of Flickr Groups when folks like Mr. Chalk were still around.

Ello is full of some of the most creative, passionate, thoughtful personalities that I’ve ever seen online. Some of it is fcuking nutz! You have to pay attention and really think about what’s going on if you have any chance in hell of understanding what in the world @bibles is talking about.

The other day I read one of the most passionate works of non-fiction I’ve ever read by @beneaththestars. She deleted the work the next day, because it was painful and intensely raw and personal, but it’s not something you’d ever have found on Facebook.

Every Ello day is full of creativity. What about the mad curation skillz of @diogovarelasilva? The writers, artists, and creative people that are setting up house there are really publishing fine work. I hesitate to name more names, because you ALWAYS leave so many people out… but…@dbriannelson (NSFW), @sylvia_plath, @kellylr, @girlmuse, @elisemesner, @cgwarex, @katatonic, @mtvinthe1990s, @x-files, @miranda_riordan (also probably not so safe for work)… Last night I read one of the most hilarious adult picture books by @theanimatedwoman I could just keep going…

2. I’m not afraid of adult content or the human body. I’m actually a big fan of the human body and think that it’s absurd that Facebook will take down photos of mothers breastfeeding their young.

The other day Facebook sent me a note letting me know that they had sided on my side about leaving up a photo of mine of a sculpture by August Rodin, probably the world’s most famous sculptor. To me it’s absurd that people would actually report a Rodin sculpture, but the fact that you even have to think about that at Facebook is dumb.

Ello, like Flickr, manages NSFW content much more intelligently. At Ello if you are going to be sharing content that is adult oriented you just categorize your work as NSFW. Likewise people then have a choice to either view NSFW or have this work filtered out of their Ello experience. NSFW and SFW content can exist side by side together in peace and harmony. Boobs are not necessarily evil, just ask Scout Willis.

You see, the thing is that in general the world’s most creative people dislike censorship. So *because* Ello makes a place for intelligent and creative NSFW content, it attracts a much higher percentage of these creatives than you will find somewhere like Facebook.

3. I hate ads. Facebook’s ads are “supposed” to be intelligent ads that are targeted just to my specific taste and liking. If this is true then why are they advertising dishlatino at me? I speak un poquito of Spanish, but certainly not enough to sign up and order dishlatino. Nothing against latinos who like to watch satellite TV by the way.

I don’t think Facebook’s ads are intelligently targeted towards me at all. I think that I am shotgunned ads just like I am on broadcast TV where I have to watch horrible pharmaceutical commercials over and over and over again. Ello has no ads and better yet NEVER will! Is starting a new social network without ads bold? Hell yes it is! I love it!

4. The founders that hack on Ello are right up there amongst the most creative of the Ello community. As much as their creativity though, I admire their transparency. Frequent updates about what’s up with Ello abound. If you have a problem with Ello’s service or something’s bothering you go tell @budnitz or @cacheflowe or @lucian or @todd or whoever. The team running the site are accessible and frequently let you know what’s up. Obviously they can’t respond to every crank anarchist with an axe to grind (nothing against crank anarchists with axes to grind), but they are pretty open about what they are up to.

5. I don’t need to be on the biggest social network in the world. I really don’t. I’d rather interact with a few hundred really interesting engaging people than 5 million strangers.

6. Ello is not just for artists. Although I have a burning passion for art and photography, during the day I have an equal passion for my day job, which just happens to be in the financial services industry. I don’t talk about this side of who I am very often, but I’ve been very impressed that Ello has seemed to have attracted some talent here as well. Respected writers in the financial industry like Bloomberg’s Joel Weisenthal are writing there. Bloomberg News has an active Ello account. Ello is not just for artists!

7. Did I mention *photos* *look* *great*? I love it when I see a photographer post the same photo on Ello and other social networks. Photos look so much better on Ello, it’s not even close.

8. I don’t want some corporation filtering out work by my friends and filtering out my work to my friends. The other day I was visiting with my friend Marc Evans. We were talking about Facebook and I told him that one of the things that I disliked about Facebook is that I NEVER see his work on there. He replied that it’s funny but that he NEVER sees my work on there either. For some reason Facebook filters his stuff out of my feed. Occasionally I do go to his individual feed there and like stuff, but he never appears in my public feed. I feel like Facebook wants me to pay them in order to let my images go out to my friends there. I’ve noticed that traffic to my images over the past several years increasingly has been dwindled down by Facebook’s almighty algorithm. I don’t like that.

I, for one, will spend most of 2015 on Ello. I love the way the platform showcases photography. I love the quirky creative people I am finding on there. I love the accessibility, openness and transparency of those who are hacking on it. I love that I don’t have to see ads. It feels like a beautiful, open frontier with the most interesting personalities I have ever seen on any social network.

For those of you asking about a mobile app for Ello, it is coming. I suspect we see one in early 2015. Don’t let this stop you from participating though. You can still use Ello on the web today on your phone and it pays to get involved with the best new things early on.

One final word of advice for those of you who find Ello as compelling as I do. You can’t just join a social network and expect to have things happen. The best social network happens when *you* put effort into it. Don’t just post to Ello and then run away. Participate. Engage with other users. Comment on compelling work that you like. Invite your friends and the most creative people you know to come join you. If you are interested here is a post I wrote on 10 tips for getting the most out of Ello. Oh and you can find me on Ello here.

The future is bright for Ello indeed!

Update: I posted a few respectful comments on Nathan Jurgenson’s original piece, What was Ello, linked above. Interestingly enough it would appear that he is deleting comments from his original blog post about Ello posted by people who respectfully disagree with him.

That feels intellectually dishonest to me and makes his original post feel even more like trolling. I certainly respect people’s right to moderate content, but in general I’m happy to let people post comments on my posts that disagree with me, as long as they can do it respectfully without attacking other people etc. It’s disappointing that as a blogger it would appear Jurgenson can’t handle basic simple, respectful disagreement.

Here is another example of a thoughtful, on topic, respectful comment deleted by Jurgenson. Deleting comments from people for disagreeing with you feels intellectually dishonest and cowardly. I’m disappointed that Jurgenson feels it necessary to delete comments by people who respectfully disagree with him.

Update 2: Another perspective: why @rumblepress likes Ello. 🙂

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