10 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello

Without a doubt Ello is one of my most favorite places to hang out on the interwebs these days. No site looks better for photos and in addition to a well designed web experience they also have a first rate iPhone app as well. Structured as a public benefit corporation, Ello has no advertising and they don’t target you and track your usage to sell your activity to advertisers. I hardly ever use Facebook or Instagram anymore because because the advertising just seems so overwhelming to me. I also find that I feel much more positive after spending time on Ello instead of Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to such a clean, ad-free experience, Ello has some of the most creative photographers, curators and artists posting anywhere on the web today. It’s always such a delight to find new and interesting people to hang out with there.

Below are 10 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello. If you’re not on the site yet, these might be 10 good accounts to start with. If you already are there you may already follow most of these accounts. This post could have easily been titled 100 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello or even 1,000 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello. In that sense, this list is almost a bit random, and just represents 10 accounts that came to top of mind that you might want to check out as is by no means meant to be exhaustive.

Pro Tip: when on a page on Ello use the = key to toggle between large photos and thumbnails for any user.

David Seibold
David Seibold. I’ve known David for a few years now. He hails from Bakersfield and is very active using various social media channels. One thing I like about David is that he interacts with others so well and really engages on the sites that he uses.

Ello Fashion
2. Ello Fashion. Ello Fashion is a curated page by Pj Smith. If you are interested in cutting edge new fashion beautifully photographed it’s a great page with new content daily.

3. fxzebra. Karen Gkiounasian is a photographer and filmmaker behind the faxzebra Ello account and posts wonderfully creative works in a style of his own.

4. girlmuse. A self described vintage lover, child of the 70s, new bohemian and soul sister, girlmuse and I both grew up in the 1970s which is probably why I enjoy the nostalgia on Ello page as much as I do. A wonderful showcase of the best of vintage culture.

5. karinkarst. karinkarst’s account is full of wonderful digital abstraction. Combining photography with abstract processing there is a lot to love here.

6. katatonic. katatonic is Sarah Katherine from Colorado who always seems to come up with the best random images of the day.

Lawn Party
7. lawnparty. Julie Fuller runs the LP account which focuses on fashion, styling and curating. Julie is also 1/2 of thecontinual account on Ello. It seems like so many of the great Ello accounts hail from Colorado. 😉

Matt Harvey
8. Matt Harvey. I’ve enjoyed Matt’s terrific photography on Flickr where he posts as 75Central for many years now. Full sized photos on Ello though look even better than Flickr and so it’s always nice to see his work on Ello as well.

Neon Ice Cream
9. neonicecream. Andrew Simoni is a Santa Cruz based photographer and musician. He does wonderful work with water and wave among many, many other things.

Bel Colozzi
10. belartandstyle. Each day I look forward to what Saatchi artist Bel Colozzi is going to come up with next. In addition to her own paintings and prints that she showcases, she does it with style and flair mixing in her photographs from her Arizona desert along with what seems like an endless need for coffee.

As mentioned before, these 10 accounts are but a tiny sample of the amazing talent you will find on Ello. If you want to see more beautiful work by the thousands of artists posting there daily, I’d encourage you to check out my loves page on Ello where you can find so many more interesting people worth following.

Are you on Ello yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

I post daily on Ello myself and you can check out my work on here.

In Defense of Flickr

In Defense of Flickr

I’ve read two articles this week that appear critical of Flickr and thought I’d take a moment to address both, as well as share some of my own thoughts on Flickr. I have been a heavy Flickr photographer for over a decade and for most of this past decade have been active on the site on a daily basis. I’m also active on a number of other photo related and social networking sites as well.

The first article out comes from PhotoShelter’s Allen Murabayashi via Petapixel and is titled, “Flickr’d Out: The Rise and Fall of a Photo Sharing Service.” The second article comes from Wired by David Pierce and is titled, “Time to Give up on Flickr Everybody.

The primary objection in both articles seems to relate to Flickr’s recent decision to limit their desktop uploader to paid Pro accounts only.

Personally speaking I don’t use Flickr’s desktop uploader. I would rather carefully curate my library of images on Flickr than use Flickr as a dumb dumping ground or shoebox for every single photo I’ve ever taken in my life. However, I do understand Flickr’s decision to limit this tool to paid accounts. Storage is not free and replicated enterprise storage is even more costly than your standard 2TB Western Digital or Seagate Amazon special.

My guess (just a guess) as to why Flickr made this change has to do with the value proposition. If some Flickr users were simply using Flickr as a place to backup their desktop photos without really sharing photos or engaging in the site, this might have very limited value to Yahoo. Yahoo is giving users something of value by providing them with a free terabyte of storage for photos, but if free users are just dumping private photos to the site as a backup source and not engaging socially, this significantly diminishes the value to Yahoo. In my mind it makes sense to expect these users to pay for storage. Yahoo could just go on providing everyone this free storage for the goodwill it generates, but this would make it harder for Flickr to remain profitable longer term.

Even though I do not use the desktop uploader, I am a paid Flickr Pro user and have been for over 10 years and will continue to be for probably as long as Flickr continues to exist and honor the terms of my original agreement with them. Flickr remains the primary library for my archive of images for several important reasons.

1. Flickr is giving me an unlimited amount of photo storage as a paid-Pro member. Yes, that is right, as a legacy Pro account Flickr has given me *unlimited* photo sharing. Flickr now limits accounts to 1 terabyte, but for 99.9% of folks that still is effectively unlimited.

Even if you filed up a terabyte though you could always simply open up a second Flickr account if you wanted.

In my case I am actually one of those rare .1% that uses over 1 terabyte. Having uploaded almost 115,000 full sized DSLR high res photos to the site over the past decade my storage use currently stands at 1.07 terabytes of unlimited. If you are lucky enough to have one of the old skool Flickr Pro accounts I’d encourage you to never let it lapse.

2. Flickr allows full high res original JPG uploads. A lot of people point to Google Photos’ free desktop uploader as a reason not to pay for Flickr Pro. However, there is one very important difference between Flickr and Google Photos. Google Photos downsizes and resizes your photos to a high quality web version. While this may be fine for looking at your photos on the web, if you ever need a high res original you will have to pay Google for storage.

Google would charge you $9.99/month for a terabyte of high res original storage which would equate to $119.88/year vs. Flickr Pro at $49.99/year. When announcing the change for their desktop uploader Flickr also offered users a 30% discount so you can get Flickr Pro right now for $34.99/year. $35 a year for a terabyte of full, perfect JPG originals is a pretty good deal in my opinion and less expensive than Google Photos.

I also use Google Photos in addition to my paid Flickr account and think it is a great service as well, but if you are using it as your primary cloud based backup, you should beware that your photos will be downsized unless you pay. In my case, I sell a lot of my photos and most image buyers need a high res original. It’s nice that I can just send them a link to the high res original on Flickr and they can easily download the photo directly from Flickr.

3. Flickr lets me organize my albums by keywords. Albums are very important to me. I have over 2,000 albums at this point. I have albums for my photos that have been favorited 100 times or more. I have albums for photos that have green as the primary color. I have albums of bands and musical acts that I’ve photographed. I have albums for each city of the 100 largest American cities that I’m currently photographing.

Flickr lets me create albums and collections both, but the key difference between Flickr and Google Photos here is that using Flickr’s API, Jeremy Brooks has built SuprSetr which will automatically scan all of my photos and group photos into the correct albums based on the keywords that I enter for my images as part of my workflow in Adobe Lightroom. This automation makes managing albums so much easier.

4. Flickr allows me to share all of my images both publicly and privately. In my case 99% of the images I post to Flickr are public. I like using Flickr as public place to share my archive with the rest of the world. Google Photos services is really designed for private photos only.

On Google Photos you have to share photos or albums manually and public photo sharing is much more difficult. I’ve also found that sharing photos can take up to an hour for a link to work on Google Photos and the whole sharing process is very buggy. I like the feedback that I get on my photos from the broader public on Flickr. I sort of look at Flickr as my own personal art gallery and love that people can browse my photos and favorite, tag and comment.

You can keep photos private on Flickr as well, but it has a much better public option for photos than Google Photos.

5. Flickr is social. Even though Facebook and Instagram are probably considered more social than Flickr, I still find Flickr to be a very social place. I have many old friends and many new friends that I’ve met on Flickr and interact with on a daily basis.

I think Flickr lost a bit of their social when they redesigned groups and shifted the emphasis away from forums and hope that at some point they bring groups back to what they can and should be, but even without strong groups I find the daily social interaction I get from other Flickr users to be a very fun part of using the service for me.

Every day I comment on photos and others comment on mine. I’ve met many people from Flickr personally as I’ve travelled around the country and have found it to be a wonderful engaging and social place for friendships.

6. Flickr Pro is ad-free. This is huge in my book. It seems like every 7th photo I view on Instagram these days is a “sponsored” post. I hate it when I accidently favorite a photo on Instagram only to quickly notice that I just favorited an advertisement for Citigroup or Toyota or Dom Perignon. Advertising on both Facebook and Instagram is getting worse and worse every day it seems. I also don’t like how the ads try to target me.

With a paid Flickr Pro account not only do I never see ads when using the site, but other people who are not Pro don’t have to see ads on my photo pages either. I like that Flickr doesn’t market to my friends as part of our Pro deal.

By the way another one of my favorite social networks, Ello, also is ad-free. Photos on Ello look better than probably anywhere else on the web right now.

7. Flickr has a good system for dealing with nudity and other more adult content. Nudity can be tricky. Google, Facebook and Instagram just ban it outright. Personally I think that the human body can be a beautiful thing and certainly a work of art. It’s not something that offends me.

Flickr allows each user to set the limits for what they want to see. If you only want to see safe for work stuff, you can set Flickr to that for you. If you want to also view NSFW fine art or personal photos you can allow restricted content. By default everyone at Flickr is set to safe only, but if you want to see more provocative photos you can change your settings.

8. Flickr has a very well designed web version and also a really strong mobile app as well. Even though I sometimes complain that Flickr’s mobile app limits the number of my contacts’ photos that I can see, in general it is very well done. It is fast and beautiful and very functional. They really did a terrific job with the app. Similarly the web based redesigns that Flickr has done over the last several years have been very positive in my opinion (even if I do wish there was *MUCH* more infinite scrolling).

Flickr and Google Photos are not the only two web based services to consider for your photos. SmugMug is another nice paid option, especially if you want an ecommerce engine to sell photos (although less social than Flickr). 500px is worth looking at.

Even though I hate the advertising and the massive downsizing of photos I still have accounts on Instagram and Facebook — although I try to spend as little time there as possible.

Ello as mentioned previously is probably the social network I’m most excited about right now (seriously, look how beautiful photos look on Ello).

I also think for pure cloud backup every photographer should be using Amazon’s unlimited photo storage. While Amazon’s download and search functionality could really use work, Amazon will actually store your RAW original files for free if you have a Prime membership.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everything at Flickr is perfect. I’ve been yammering on for years that they should offer a credible stock photography offering to anyone who will listen. I doubt that they could get this done under a corporate parent like Yahoo, but Flickr probably has the largest highly organized database of high quality images in the world today. If they could turn that into a stock photography business by partnering with (and rewarding) their photographers, I honestly believe it could be bigger than Getty Images, the current king of the multi billion dollar stock photography business.

I also think that Groups on Flickr could be so much more powerful if only organized right and really focused on the discussion threads more than as dumping pools for images.

Explore and interestingness could also be overhauled in some very powerful ways.

Even as Flickr remains less than perfect it still remains in my mind the best place to host your primary archive of photos on the web for photo sharing and for that reason I take issue with the two posts I read this week suggesting the decline of Flickr. For me Flickr is alive and well and I’m looking forward to spending the next decade on the site much like the last.

You can find me on Flickr here. Stop by and say hi some time — let’s be friends. 🙂

Ads on Social Networks Suck. ello.co — San Francisco, CA

Ads on Social Networks Suck

Are you on Ello yet? If not you are missing out on the best photography community on the web right now. It’s a wonderful ad-free social network where your photos are published *BIG* like they are meant to be seen. Some truly amazing photographers are publishing some truly amazing work there right now.

This is some Ello street art I photographed out on 7th street earlier today.

Come check it out and let’s be friends there too. You can find me at Ello here: http://ello.co/thomashawk


10 Reasons You Should be on Ello

10 Reasons You Should be on Ello

1. Because you are a leader not a follower. Because you pave the way. You are a trailblazer. You are like Lewis and Clark, like Henry Ford, like Jackie Robinson. Ride Sally Ride. You skate where the puck is going, not where it’s been. You do not stick around Europe for the Bubonic Plague. You hop on a boat and sail away. Far away. You’re like a pirate, or better yet, a pilgrim, albeit a very thirsty pilgrim who likes whiskey and is also much nicer to your American Indian friends.

Who cares that your mother and your aunt and that guy from 2nd grade or the mailroom guy at work are not on Ello. You are, and when they finally get there you will be able to brag about being there first.

2. Because ads suck. Are you tired of seeing those creepy ads that follow you around the internet? Yeah, you know the ones. You weren’t even going to buy the bikini you were just checking out the site for “artistic inspiration” and the next thing you know there it sticks for six months on your Facebook page, popping up each time you visit unless you uninstall and reinstall your browser. I don’t want to buy a BMW. I don’t want to go to Arby’s. I don’t want 40% off at Banana Republic. I don’t want to accidently click on a photo only to discover it’s a “sponsored post” from Dos Equis. Ads suck. Not only does Ello not have ads today, as a public benefit corporation they never will.

Earlier this week what were top Facebook and Twitter execs pushing at Cannes Lions? Yep, you guessed it, how to advertise at you even more.

Oh and that includes Instagram too. Things are about to get much, much worse there.

What was Paul Budnitz, co-founder of Ello talking about during Cannes Lions? How to be a good husband and father.

3. Because your life is not an algorithm. Are you tired of Facebook burying your posts and hiding them from your friends? You shouldn’t have to pay to sponsor your own posts to your own friends. Tired of missing important updates from the people that you care about or having to navigate complex settings just to try to see what you want to see?

You are not a machine or a robot so why should your social network treat you like one — even though robots are super cool and you might like them, or movies or dreams about them, it doesn’t mean you are one.

Take back control over Facebook’s secret algorithm and maintain your friends in two simple buckets, friends/noise. Oh and don’t be too noisy. 🙂

4. Because everyone is a photographer and our photos deserve to be seen large. Bottom line, photos look better, bigger. Photos look better when they are the size that you upload them as, not compressed and miniturized and mixed in with a bunch of ads and game invites and dumb memes and other clutter.

Your photos matter. Your art matters. Everyone is an artist and everyone should care about their art. You tell me, which site shows your photos better?

5. Because variety is the spice of life. Tired of seeing the same posts by the same people over and over and over again on the Facebook algorithm? Why not make some new friends? Some of the most creative people in the universe are publishing some truly epic art on Ello right now, while you are reading this post.

Tired of Facebook just recycling content from the same 15 people over and over again in your feed? Come to Ello and discover something fresh, something new, something inspiring. Do you like to travel? Check out Ello Travel. Do you like photography? Check out Ello Photography. Do you like food? Check out Ello cooking. Truly fine community curated content.

Integrate yourself in some new verticals and open up your world a little bit.

6. Because life should not have to be SFW. Humans are amazing creatures and the human body is a beautiful thing. Breastfeeding is natural. There’s nothing wrong with boobs. Ello will never censor or remove fine art celebrating the human body. In fact, Ello itself curates a super interesting feed of NSFW content.

Facebook and Google won’t let you host or view the naked human body. Don’t worry though, if you are one of the more modest types there is a very easy setting on Ello to filter out any NSFW content from your Ello experience. The difference is that on Ello *you* choose what you want to see or not see.

7. Because Ello is a super positive community. Tired of seeing hate and abuse on Twitter? Tired of seeing pointless arguments about politics and name calling on Facebook? Ello is one of the friendliest places on the web right now. The community is empowered. You are not a cog in a machine or fuel for the advertising furnace, you are part of a bigger social movement where people are committed and care about making Ello a welcoming place for all.

People on Ello take this responsibility seriously and you will find some beautiful, generous people who want to build you up not tear you down. Abuse and hate has been non-existent on Ello. As Ello gets larger, undoubtedly some of this may creep in, but Ello has a strong blocking tool and a serious commitment to fighting internet harassment and abuse.

8. Because the people who run Ello day in and day out care. One of the things you will find at Ello is that the folks running the show are not just nameless, faceless individuals. The people behind Ello are some of the most passionate, committed, thoughtful people dedicated to personal expression and social empowerment on the web.

Who are the people behind Ello? They are publicly listed and I’d encourage you to check them out and learn a little bit more about who is running the most exciting and growing community on the web right now. The people who run Ello are accessible and care about what you think about your community. They themselves are as big a part of the community as any of us and contribute beautiful art and work every single day.

9. Because the iOS app is awesome! Have you tried the new Ello iPhone app? It rocks (don’t worry Android users, an Android app is in the works too). The new Ello iOS app is elegant and beautiful, just like the web version. More on the Ello iOS app here.

10. Because the web is a new virtual museum and Ello has the best art. You will find some of the best art being produced today on Ello. Not only will you find artists and photographers posting their own work, but you will find thoughtful curators also sharing and properly crediting amazing art all over the world.

You can find me on Ello here. Stop by and say hi and lets be friends. 🙂

Get it While It’s Hot! Ello Launches iOS App!

Teaser:  Ello's iOS app is Launching Tomorrow :)

A lot of you who follow my photography and blog know that I’ve been super excited about Ello, my favorite new social network on the web. Today Ello gets even a little bit better with the official launch of their iOS app. They just launched the iOS app about 10 minutes ago, but it may take a little bit of time to propagate in the app store before you will be able to download it.

I’ve been testing a beta version of the app for the past few weeks and absolutely love it.

If you are a photographer and are not using Ello, I’d encourage you to give it a spin. Put simply, your photos will look better on Ello than on any other social sharing site on the web today. Looking at my photos on a 5k iMac in extra large, full, high res glory just can’t be compared with any other photo network out there. Ello shows your photos huge, as they are meant to be seen.

I love that Ello was designed for the web first and foremost, but one is not always at one’s computer and so having a mobile app these days is really important. Ello’s initial release is for iOS and the iPhone, but they have plans to ship an Android version later on in the future.

Like the web version of Ello, what I love about the iOS app is the elegance of its design and its simplicity.

Basically the app does six things for you really well.

1. Ello’s iOS app allows you to browse content by the people you follow. You get two buckets for your contacts at Ello, friends and noise. You can browse either stream and easily love and comment on content that you find interesting and engaging directly from your iOS device.

2. Ello’s iOs app allows you to look at your own content stream. You can go to your own stream and expand comments as well as scroll through your entire stream of posts from most recent to oldest.

3. Ello’s iOs app allows you to look at your notifications page. Here you can see when someone adds you, or when someone specifically mentions you in a post by name, or when someone loves or comments on a photo of yours. This is a great tool to stay on top of the interaction on your content.

4. Ello’s iOS app allows you to discover new content on Ello’s discover page. I’m not sure how content is selected for Ello’s discover page, but there is some super cool stuff. If you run out of photos to look at by your friends, check out discover too.

5. Ello’s iOS app allows you to post your own content with or without a photo. Like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other sites, you can post messages, status updates, and photos directly from the app. Unlike Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and others, Ello does not mix advertisements or promoted posts in with your content or sell your data to advertisers.

6. Ello’s iOs app allows you to easily search for other users on Ello. You can search for users and even better you can let Ello search through your contacts on your phone and show you which of your friends are already on Ello and let you invite any who are not.

Overall I’ve found the beta version of Ello’s iOs app to be super smooth. I love the animations that come with the app. When you first load the app up, you get this cool spinning Ello logo while it loads content for you. As content streams in you get a sort of pulsating gray ball letting you know that an individual post is loading. It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into how to make Ello’s app simple, elegant and intuitive.

I’ve been using the beta version of the Ello iOS app every single day since I’ve installed it and even though it’s beta it has not crashed or locked up on me once. The app is super stable.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ello, Ello is structured as a public benefit corporation. There will never be any advertisements on Ello and they will never sell your data. Ello takes your privacy very seriously and in my opinion is the most user centered social network on the web/iOS today.

The people that run Ello are very solid. They are community focused and driven. One of the big reasons why I’m so high on Ello is because I’ve spent some time familiarizing myself with the founders and I think they represent some of the most sincere integrity in the social networking space today. They can definitely be trusted with your content and my content and they deserve our support.

In addition to a great team running Ello, the community itself is one of the most creative communities on the web. I’m continuously blown away at the talent and artistic vision of the artists, designers, photographers and thinkers that are part of the early Ello community. Not only will you find some of the most awe inspiring visual work on the web today, you will find that behind that work is one of the most inclusive, friendly and welcoming communities to date. While you can block people on Ello, fortunately there has been very little abuse thus far and people seem to get along really well.

For those of my friends who are already there, I’m really digging your work. For those of my friends who are not there yet, I hope you take a few seconds out today to download Ello’s new iOS app and I’d love to know what you think about it and see more of your work there in the future. If you want to connect on Ello you can find me here.

If you want to learn a little bit more about Ello, check out this great video below by Lucian and Todd where they talk a little more about what Ello is all about.

More from: The Verge, TechCrunch, readwrite, Los Angeles Times, Engadget.

What TechCrunch Gets Wrong About Ello…

Pardon My Whiskers Mr. Mingus
Photograph of the hippest hipster cat around, Mr. Mingus, by hipster Daniel Krieger

Writing for TechCrunch, Josh Constine penned a hit piece yesterday announcing the end of Ello. I was disappointed to see TechCrunch, a publication that I long viewed as being supportive of the start up community, using their pulpit to tear one down. Not only do I think Josh got a lot of the story on Ello wrong, but the dramatic tone of his article was unnecessarily disparaging and that is disappointing.

I’m not sure how much Josh uses Ello, but I use it every day and it’s currently my favorite social network.

I thought I’d take a few minutes to address some of the things that Josh said about Ello and add my own commentary.

1. Josh says: “Here in September gone in September, Ello hoped to dethrone Facebook by … not having ads.”

I’m curious about Josh’s comments saying Ello hoped to “dethrone” Facebook. Nowhere have I ever seen the founders of Ello saying that they hope to “dethrone” Facebook. In fact, the founders have gone out of their way to say that Ello and Facebook are two entirely different things. Ello is a social network and Facebook is an advertising network.

If you pull up Ello’s mission statement, does it say that their goal in life is to “dethrone” Facebook?

On the “What is Ello” page, Ello states:

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers. We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.”

Huh? So why the wild hyperbole from TechCrunch stating that Ello hoped to dethrone Facebook? If Ello got even 1/10th of 1% of the users that Facebook has it would be an absolute home run. Facebook is a multi billion dollar advertising network. Ello is a fun place to hang out and share things in an ad free environment with interesting people.

2. Josh says: “But while hipsters had fun hating on Zuck’s creation for a few days, they all went back to it and promptly ditched Ello.”

What’s with the dig about “hipsters?”

Maybe I’m a hipster, maybe I’m not a hipster?

I’m just a photographer looking to share my photos on a cool platform and I’m still using Ello everyday, just like I did when I joined it.

Is Brian Nelson a “hipster” (they won’t let him share his fine art nude photographs on Facebook by the way, warning NSFW)? Is my photographer friend David Seibold a hipster? Is JC Little a hipster? Is foalsi a hipster? Is Greg Poulos a hipster? Is Japanese photographer ruylopez a hipster? Is Jessica Greene a hipster? Is Toby Harriman a hipster? Is dutch a hipster? Is my Italian friend Nicola Cocco a hipster? Is writer, journalist and photographer Marcus Hammerschmitt a hipster? Is Ugo Cei a hipster? Is Brad Sloan a hipster? Is Portuguese street photographer Ricardo Porto a hipster?

I know my friend Daniel Krieger is *definitely* a hipster — he shoots for the NY Times, lives in Brooklyn, used to have a moustache, drinks fine bourbon and has the coolest cat named Mr. Mingus. The thing is though, all of these people are still on Ello and still posting every day. Josh on the other hand made two posts on the site and then bolted. One of his two posts is of this hipster looking avatar with a moustache, beard and long hair that I guess is supposed to be him?

Is the hipster criticism just because a few of the Ello founders have beards? Whatever case, the “hipsters” haven’t “promptly ditched Ello.” I could easily come up with a few hundred more interesting talented people I follow on Ello that pretty much post every day.

3. Josh says: “Beating Facebook at its own game is like punching a wall 1.35 billion bricks thick. ”

Huh, who said anything about “beating Facebook at its own game?” Lots of people who use Ello also use Facebook. I know I do. Why does everything have to be about “beating” Facebook. Is that just for the clicks? Ello isn’t even playing Facebook’s game. How can they “beat” them in an advertising game that they are not even playing in?

4. Josh says: “So as soon as people realized they could either post to their few smug friends who joined Ello, or everyone they know on Facebook, they dropped Ello on its face.”

Why would Josh think that people who use Ello are “smug?” I’ve met some really cool and interesting people on Ello. I’ve made some great new friends and reconnected with some old ones. The mixture of people is like a really nice bar where people generally speaking are nice and thoughtful and creative and intelligent and interesting. Maybe Josh needs to spend more time actually researching Ello before labeling the community there as “smug” and saying that they “dropped Ello on it’s Face.”

I mean, I hate to say it, but I think Josh’s hipster TechCrunch article on Ello is actually way, way, way, way more “smug” than the people who are actually using Ello as a fun community every single day.

5. Josh says: “No one I follow has posted in three months, so I doubt they’re checking the site either. ”

So wait, because Josh’s 22 hipster friends on Ello aren’t using it nobody else could possibly be? Maybe he should do a little more research because many of the 778 friends I’m following on there are using it every single day.

I thought Josh’s take on Ello was pretty myopic and one sided.

Look, here’s the thing about Ello. Ello is not trying to be Facebook. Ello is not trying to beat Facebook. Ello is not trying to play a game of horse basketball with Facebook on the Facebook basketball courts. Ello is Ello. Ello doesn’t need billions of users. Ello doesn’t need creepy ads that follow you around the internet. Ello doesn’t need you to pay them to have your “sponsored” posts shown to your friends.

Ello just is a cool place where interesting, intelligent, creative people are hanging out and being all friendly like. Photography there looks better than on any other network on the web. The interface is easy and clean. The folks running the show actually give a damn and care about the place and participate and are transparent about where they are headed with the network. If you haven’t tried Ello yet, check it out. You might find it the friendly sort of place you might like to hang out. You can find me on Ello here.

Some good comments about this article here.

Update: Paul Budnitz, one of Ello’s founders, has a very insightful response to Josh’s TechCrunch piece here.

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. 🙂

Ello vs. Facebook for Photographers

Ello vs. Facebook

Are you an artist or photographer? Do care about the integrity of your images? Do you dislike ads and sponsored posts shoved in your face? Do you dislike having 99% of your feed filtered out of view for those who follow you?

Look at the above and answer this question: where does my photograph of the St. Louis Arch look better, Ello or Facebook?

By the way, Ello is not just a social network for photographers. I’ve met some amazing creative writers, thinkers, and purveyors of all sorts of culture there.

There are communities there building on things like finance, tech, science, politics, etc. It’s an open inclusive community.

It’s also where I spend almost all of my online time these days. So, if you notice I’m quiet on Facebook and other networks, it’s not that I’m being quiet, per se, it’s just that I’m hanging out over there at Ello.

Like most new communities online or IRL, it takes some time and energy and effort to make Ello work for you, but it’s a far more rewarding experience and worth it and I’m happy about doing my own part to participate in something better.

If you are new to Ello here are some tips for you.

You can find me on Ello here.

10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Ello

10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Ello

Ello is the most exciting new social network to appear in years. It’s a vibrant place full of interesting thinkers and artists — I spend more time on Ello than any other network right now. Every day new and interesting people are signing up, plugging in and joining. Although Ello is a social network like many others, it is also unlike many others as well. Ello has it’s own way of organizing things and after spending a few months on the site I thought I’d share some best practices for getting the most out of Ello.

1. NSFW. As a community with a lot of artists as early members, Ello seems to have a healthy tolerance for all forms of expression, including fine art nudes and other adult oriented material. I’m a big fan of the human body as form and expression and think this is great.

You won’t be bounced off Ello or censored (like Facebook) because you express the beauty of the human body in your art. If this sort of work is your thing, then Ello asks that you set your account as NSFW. I’m guessing that if you don’t do this voluntarily, they can/will do it for you.

Similarly, it is up to you whether or not you want to *see* this sort of work on Ello.

These are two independent settings.

So there are two things for you to consider. Do you want to see NSFW content AND do you yourself in fact post NSFW content. A lot of people get this setting wrong. They check NSFW for both when they produce work that is entirely SFW. Be sure to understand the distinction and manage your settings (you can do that here: https://ello.co/settings) accordingly.

If you are not posting nudes or other adult oriented materal, then make sure the “post adult oriented content” button is checked no. You can still check yes that you want to view it, but more people will see your stuff if you manage this setting correctly.

2. Don’t overshare. I see a few people posting 10, 15, 20 photos in a row on Ello. Most people won’t want to see 20 of your photos in a row. They want variety. They want to see other stuff by other friends too. If you overshare, there is a very good chance that people will move your account into their noise bucket and a lot less people will see your work. The right number of items to share on Ello per day is probably a matter of personal opinion, but realize that every time you post you give people an option of moving you into the noise bucket where your work will be much less (if at all) visible to them going forward.

I’d say anything over 4 or 5 posts a day on Ello is probably too much and starts to feel spammy. Save your very best work for Ello and self edit a bit more. I probably post 1 – 3 images there a day depending on the day. That might even be too much.

3. Quality counts. Never has quality been as important. Again, people can easily move you into the noise category so consider that in what you post. Post your best work for others to see. Nothing makes me want to move someone to noise like thoughtless, mediocre work.

I probably sound like a broken record with my dislike for watermarking and signatures, but on Ello it’s more important than other places to avoid these distasteful aesthetically displeasing nuisances. If you put ugly watermarks and signatures on your photos people will move you to noise (if they follow you at all) and your work will not be seen. Even your best friend might do this and you will never know. So put your best foot forward and only share what you consider to be your highest quality content.

4. Be social. Ello is a *social* network, so be social. I see people already complaining that it doesn’t feel like they are getting enough attention on Ello. You shouldn’t expect to just post content and have people flock to your brilliant work. You need to engage with others. The best way to do this is to participate in conversations on other people’s posts. Find some interesting people who are engaging on the site and jump into conversations that you find. Ello is a place best served by meaningful, articulate dialog. Offer up considered thoughtful contributions to other people’s work and I think you’ll make friends fast there. Lurk and you will be alone.

If you are new and are looking for some interesting and engaging people you may find some here. Also, don’t forget about the invite button. Do you know some really great people who should be on ello? Then make sure you send them an invitation to your new party. Inevitably people will start saying that “none of their friends,” are on Ello. This is your fault. It’s up to you to get them here. It’s also up to you to make new friends. 🙂

Post about Ello on your other networks and encourage people there to come join you. Tweet, FB, G+, Flickr, etc. letting people know that you are hanging out there and offer to get an invitation to anyone who wants one.

5. “I think everybody should be nice to everybody.” — Andy Warhol It goes without saying that you should be nice to others. This is one of the most important things that Andy Warhol ever said. Especially on Ello where there is not only a block function, but also a noise feature, people who are antisocial assholes will quickly be marginalized out of the experience. Being nice does not mean being bland, uncontroversial and boring. It just means that when you disagree with others, try to do it as respectfully as possible. Don’t personally attack people. Rise above that. Great ideas can be discussed on Ello and people can disagree on things, but respect is the key.

6. Be visible. Make sure you have an avatar, a profile, and links to your other sites as the *very first thing* you do when you join Ello — then add some interesting content of your own. You only get one chance to make a strong first impression. When someone new follows me, a lot of the time I’ll go look at who they are by clicking on their profile link. If I’m taken to a blank page with a blank avatar and minimal description, I probably will not follow them back or engage with them. On the other hand if I find a thoughtfully written profile, links to other places where I can check out your work, and some compelling content already uploaded to your Ello account, I just might try to make friends by adding you back.

7. Be active. If you want to get the most out of Ello, you should consider making a meaningful contribution to the site. Especially after you first join you should plan on spending some time on the site every day. Post content yourself daily, but also participate in posts by other people every day, and this means more than just typing “nice photo.” If you post a few photos and then disappear for a week, when people look at your account you’ll be passed over as a dead account.

8. Understand Ello’s advertising position. Ello does not have ads on the site. Also, they don’t profile you and sell your personal data to advertisers (like they do on Facebook). This does not mean that brands are not welcome on Ello though, they are. They just won’t be able to advertise to people by paying Ello. Brands may not fully understand this and think that they need to stay away. One of Ello’s founders Paul Budnitz spells this position out clearly here:

“Because Ello doesn’t have ads, the only way for brands to be on Ello effectively is to post interesting things that people want to see.

Another way to say it is, the worst way to for a company to use social media is to advertise, because that is essentially paying money to show us things that we don’t want to see. Brands are welcome join Ello, but if their content sucks, nobody will want to follow them.”

Budnitz’s own company Budnitz Bicycles has a brand page on Ello. And you know what, it features kick ass beautiful artistic quality photographic works of their bicycles. That’s a pretty good example of how you should think about Ello if you are a brand. Just because the anti-advertising ethos runs strong on Ello, this doesn’t mean your business/company/brand should not be there. It just means you are going to really have to work to get people’s attention by providing them interesting content and not typical advertising crap.

9. Watch your activity. Click on the little lightning bolt frequently on Ello. Are new people following you? Go check them out. Did someone make a meaningful comment on a photograph of yours or ask a question? Go respond to them. Did someone mention you in one of their posts somewhere else on Ello, then acknowledge that and go say hi back. It’s important that you use this tool regularly. While you may not be able to get back to everyone who mentions you or look at everyone who adds you as a contact, be sure to spend time on your activity when you can and participate.

10. Understand and respect both imagery and text. Are you a writer? Consider adding an interesting photo to your post (or borrowing one from an image creator with attribution and permission). This will make things more interesting than just a wall of text.

Are you a photographer? Consider using the strong text function on Ello as a way to tell people more about you and your work. I’m sharing more about myself personally on Ello than I ever have on any network. When I post a photo, frequently, I write about where I was when I took it, how I made it, what my feelings are/were around the image. And I use my space on Ello as a sort of personal diary through text just as much as a visual diary through my imagery of America.

A lot of people don’t get Ello yet. Many never will. It’s so early for Ello, but I do believe that Ello has the potential to become the most substantial social network going forward — bigger and more important than Facebook or Twitter or Google+.

Being early there, you have an opportunity to participate in shaping this important new community — what it will be today and what it ultimately will become.

You can find me most days on Ello here. 🙂

Ello, My New Favorite Social Network


I just spent $40 on a t-shirt.

I don’t think I’ve ever spent $40 on a t-shirt in my life. The t-shirt is a limited edition threadless Ello t-shirt designed by @nopattern.

I’ve been given t-shirts in the past by many social networks and sites. I have a Google+ t-shirt, I have a Facebook t-shirt, I have a Flickr t-shirt, I have a friendfeed t-shirt from back in the day. Twitter never gave me one, but that’s ok. The Ello one I bought for myself though. I like to think that this is some small way that I can help contribute towards the ad-free social experience that quickly has become my favorite of all the networks.

Over at the Atlantic Alexis Madrigal has an article out today titled “The Fall of Facebook.” In the article he describes a certain “soullessness” of Facebook and writes about the unease that people increasingly have with Facebook’s advertising network.

A few weeks ago, when the San Francisco Giants clinched the World Series, my wife took a photograph of our children and family celebrating the win. Not being particularly privacy conscious when it comes to social media, she added a name for the location, “Hawkville” without realizing that through this process she was creating a new permanent “place” on Facebook that was geotagging our home.

Friends quickly liked both the post and the new “place” and in a matter of hours we were much more public on Facebook than I wanted to be. After realizing that she’d made this mistake, my wife removed the location tag from the photo – but what she couldn’t remove was the new permanent “place” on Facebook, “Hawkville,” which geotagged our home’s exact and precise location against our wishes.

Because I’ve had issues with impersonation on Facebook in the past and I suppose because I have a larger than average social media following, previously I’d been given a link to a special sort of VIP customer service area at Facebook.

Although I was disturbed that there seemed to be no way to remove my geotagged home from Facebook, I figured it would just take reaching out to this VIP customer service group to get the geotag deleted — unfortunately this turned out not to be the case. The Facebook employee who responded to me told me that she was unable to delete the page “Hawkville” or remove the geotag of my personal and private residence.

I next made a post on Facebook about the unfairness of this. Just because my wife made a mistake and geotagged our home, why should that mistake be irreversible? Shouldn’t I have more control over my personal residence on Facebook? Does Facebook believe in doxing? Why were my wife and I locked out of this page, unable to control this personal data? Why had Facebook created a “place” of a personal residence in the first place and why wasn’t my wife warned at the time that by geotagging our home she was permanently and irrevocably adding our location data to Facebook with no way to remove it?

After several posts and further attempts to contact the Facebook VIP customer service department, about a week later I went to a group of Facebook employees who I know personally and I was able to get the geotag removed (although not the place). I really appreciate the personal help that I was given to get this done (I really do), but the fact of the matter is that I shouldn’t have had to go that route to have my personal information removed from Facebook.

I’ve been increasingly disappointed with my experience on Facebook. I find that fewer and fewer of my friends are seeing what I post and engagement is increasingly going down.

I’m seeing more and more “sponsored” posts and advertising crowding out organic content, which probably plays a part in this… or maybe my photography just sucks and is way less interesting to the people who follow me there.

Sponsored posts are the worst as far as I’m concerned. At least with an ad over in the right hand column, I can try to ignore it. A sponsored post shoves itself right into your face though. Time and again I’ve caught myself reading the first few lines of a sponsored post before realizing I’m reading one and then have that terrible feeling I get when I realize I’ve just been suckered for few seconds into an ad.

More than this though, I feel like Facebook doesn’t really care about me. I feel like I’m being targeted and manipulated and probed and studied. I don’t feel like my content there is valued. There *is* a certain soullessness to the place. I’m not sure what can be done about that, it’s just what it feels like to me.

I also feel like photography doesn’t really matter at Facebook. Photos are super small and optimized for mobile, rather than big and glorious and optimized for the web. I get that Facebook has to pay for storage for our photos, but with all of the advertising and personal data they collect to target us, don’t they have even just a few nickels or dimes to make the photos just a tiny bit larger in the feed? Yes, I know that someone can click through and see it larger, but most people don’t and won’t and so your art is presented in an unfavorable small way to the 0.1% of your followers who might actually see it in their feed.

My experience so far at Ello has been the opposite.

At Ello I’ve found an idealistic group of artists, photographers and thinkers who dare to imagine a different, better way. I’ve found some of the freshest, most creative and most interesting art that I’ve seen in years online. There are no ads. Ello is not tracking my information to try and sell it to advertisers.

The founders and operators of Ello come across as creative, innovative, accessible, enthusiastic and engaged. I feel respect for my content on Ello, which is shown large in full high res glory. This is why I put more of myself into my art and photography on Ello than any other site. The respect feels greater.

I’ve met so many new and interesting friends on Ello. I’m settling in there realizing that this will be the place that I will share and communicate online with people going forward more than anywhere else. It feels like I’m hanging out with some really interesting artists in a nice cozy little café in Marfa, Texas with amazing coffee and music — rather than being lost, wandering aimlessly around the world’s largest Walmart, being told not to take photos in the store by some security guard.

Forbes says that the number one social media marketing trend that will dominate 2015 will be the rise of Ello. Rather than rely on crappy paid advertisements on Facebook going forward, Fashionista writes about how brands will actually have to create interesting, creative content to be seen on social networks like Ello in the future.

So is this new network worth $40? You’d better believe it is. Plus I get an awesome new t-shirt to go with the Marfa Public Radio one I bought just last week.

Do you like art and photography and architecture and design and creative thinking? Then come hangout on ello. You’ll find me most days online over there at http://ello.co/thomashawk