The earliest adopters among my friends are those I think of as social media old skoolers—in other words, LiveJournalers. That was the comparison they frequently made--that they felt like they were back on LiveJournal. I had a LiveJournal, like everyone did in those brutal early aughts, but was never a dedicated community member.
I described my ello experience as like a community garden. Another word that felt apt: it is humane.
All of this, of course, could just be a by-product of scale. Right now I only have 16 people as Friends and 6 people as Noise. What happens when that number becomes 50, 100, 200? What happens when too much is happening on my feed? What happens when they inevitably need to monetize the space? Will ello prioritize maintaining that sense of poise which I think is its greatest asset?
We often treat our media as all good or all bad—either its running us, or it’s the next step on the path to our transhumanist destiny. I prefer Marshall McLuhan’s formulation of media effects (and affects!), which is that for every sense a media extends, it also amputates something else. What we’ve struggle with since the emergence of digitized social media networks is quickly they consume our lives and reshape everything in their image. When I think of this in McLuhan-esque terms, this is a problem of extension and amputation. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr—they extend us far and often amputate too much.
And many of us have been unhappy with these forms of social media, especially Facebook, for a long time. Ello is a social network informed by many things we’ve wearied of in social networks—endless feeds, constant communication, the politics (and often clunky methods) for following but not following people you have to follow but may not like. Ello feels like a space not built for over-extension.
Social networks like Facebook never had the chance to get these things right because they, in some sense, invented the problem. It’s not their’s to solve. This, I think, is what gives the space for ello to plot out its own parcel of land. Where this is going is hard to predict, but suffice to say: I like the gesture.