Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The amazing Ello: a new style of social network

There is a new breed of social network, coming from Vermont. The founder is Paul Budnitz, who also owns a bicycle shop Here is their manifesto, written by Aral Balkan

Ello Manifesto 

Your social network is owned by advertisers. 
Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
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.
You are not a product.
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Aral Balkan though left Ello, because he discovered that Paul accepted VC money.  "What I didn’t know at the time was that they’d taken $435,000 in seed funding from FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based Venture Capital firm. This had apparently been announced by FreshTracks Capital in March.
Paul Budnitz, Ello CEO
Here is some more information from the web site 
Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties.
Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You're the product that's being bought and sold.
Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a "free" service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.
We also think ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we're better without them.
According to article from Canadian media, Ello was " created by a group of seven artists and programmers, it’s still in a beta phase as it works out bugs and introduces new features. It’s also only available through personal invites, and is fielding a reported 31,000 join requests per hour."

Per hour!!! No wonder my request to join from yesterday got no answer

Some call it a Facebook killer as" Ello differs from Facebook and Twitter in its “no ads” policy, and it doesn’t require you to register with your real name–contrary to Facebook’s recent decision to enforce such a policy."

It remains to be seen how it will keep its pure innocence Meanwhile the manifesto produces up to 50,000 new subscriptions an hour. One day they must figure out how monetize without alienating their idealistic users, if the company is not sold before that.

Note added January 28, 2015

Money talks. The $435K seed investment grew to $5.9 million three month ago  Was Ello bluffing? There is no way to survive in the United States of America without funding, and without profits to justify the investors hopes. Revisiting the web site, this is what we read:
Ello is completely free to use.
We occasionally offer special features to our users. If we create a special feature that you really like, you may choose to support Ello by paying a very small amount of money to add that feature to your Ello account.
Oh well. This is just the beginning
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AI and ML for Conversational Economy