Discovering Ello

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Have you ever longed for a social media site with style? If so, you will be interested in Ello. I scored an invitation to Ello yesterday and have been exploring it for the past three hours. It took an hour to get used to the sparse, minimalist black and white design, but once I did, I understood why so many artists, illustrators and photographers have chosen it as their preferred social media site.

What is Ello?

Ello says it best on their WTF About page: “Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.” More importantly for those of us who are sick of Facebook’s intrusion into our private lives, Ello is ad-free and doesn’t sell users’ private data to third parties. It hopes to raise money through selling “special features” to users. I hope it works, because there is nothing I’d like better than to see it survive and, in an ideal world, make Facebook redundant.

I don’t know my way around the site very well yet, but there’s not really much to know. I started by exploring Noise, which seems to be a listing of the most popular posts. All of them were interesting. Some of them were stunning enough to make my realise how banal other social media sites are. Take this image by @graphiteshutter, for instance:

Okay, maybe I’ve been hanging out with the wrong people on Facebook and G+, but it’s not all my fault. Images of this quality were everywhere on Ello. You have to search high and low to find them on other social media sites. It stands to reason, I guess, because the site wasn’t created by some dorky college kid, but a group of artists and programmers. Originally, it was intended to be for a select group only, but word spread and they created a public platform.

News about Ello went viral recently and people have been begging to join. How many people? According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ello was receiving 30,000 requests per hour within a month of its launch. I was one of them and like the others, went on the waiting list. Ironically, I finally got an invitation when I made one of my infrequent visits to the G+ “ghost town” and commented on a post about it by a clever woman who runs a freelance virtual assistant business called The Favored Assistant.

So far, my only complaint is that discovering Ello has been a humbling experience. Every website I visited was so beautifully designed, I’ve decided to go back to the drawing board and clean up this site. The first thing I’m going to do is get rid of Adsense. Then I’m going to remove the ads from my sidebar and only put banners on posts when they are relevant to the subject I’m writing about.

All the best, Ello. You’ve restored my faith in the potential of the internet and social media.