The internet, and how we use it, are both fascinating things. It is in a constant state of flux. Things come and go. What was the standard yesterday, may be forgotten tomorrow. And you never really know what that next big thing will be. The information superhighway is littered with the bones of once great services and applications (Posterous, twitpic, Google Reader). Of course, not everything just shuts down. Some services continue on, a shadow of what they once were (Livejournal, Myspace).
The current leaders in the social space are easily twitter and facebook. But you have to assume that it is at least possible that they could suffer this same fate. What could be next? Have a look at ello. facebook has been having a bit of a revolt over their recent announcement that they are going to start shutting down accounts that are not using real names. This is particularly problematic for performers, who have an account under a stage name. It seems to have been a bit of a perfect storm for ello, as many people are now heading there to at least give the service a try as a facebook alternative.
As you can see in the screenshot of my account up top, it is very minimalist. There is no advertising. And they are clearly marketing themselves as the anti-facebook. Here is the pitch you’ll find on their website before you sign up:
| 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.
It is a noble idea. And it is easy to see how people that are growing ever-more annoyed with the antics of facebook would embrace it. The fly in the ointment, as always, is whether or not it will be adopted en masse. Google + is great, but I rarely use it because it just doesn’t have the user base that facebook does. The people and organizations I want to interact with are not there. Now, we wait to see if ello can crack that particular nut, or if they are just another interesting idea that comes and goes.