Five years is a long time, so it isn’t a surprise that Ello might have faded from the minds of the people. And after being an initial skeptic, I have quietly become an occasional visitor — more like a lurker on the network, secretly following some fantastic photographers and their creativity. Many are not even my kind of photographs and visuals, but the sheer quality of images is stunning and one can learn so much from these works. Here is a link to the page of trending photos on Ello. But that isn’t all. There are so many amazing artists including this photo/visual surrealist.
It is the antithesis of the likes-fueled, influencer-juiced world of Instagram and its algorithmic overlordship of creativity. If Instagram is the machine and crowd-powered enemy of creativity for the sake of creativity, Ello is just a place where there are fewer judgments about the art. It is not just about photos. There is art, fashion, music, design, architecture — and it feels like the East Village long before the faux-pubs, condos and the Whole Foods turned it into urban-suburbia.
There is a little current running through the network. There are no adverts because the company founders hated web advertising. I am not sure how they are doing as a business. But they are still around and have not raised new investment capital since their early days. They seem to be attracting new artists and creators.
Ello — which at one time wanted to be an anti-Facebook has smartly retreated to a place that is for creators, focusing purely on creativity and not all the other stuff that social platforms do, in order to suck up all your attention and sell advertising. I was highly skeptical of Ello when it launched back in September 2014, and tweeted that “The obsessive coverage of Ello is less about Ello. Instead, it really is about our growing dissatisfaction with the state of social networks.” I was right about the shitty-state of social then, and it has gotten worse since. However, I was wrong about Ello. By a mile! My then colleague Mathew Ingram was more (and in hindsight rightfully) decisive and had seen the potential of Ello as Internet’s new informal place.
It is weird, funky and fun — much like Tumblr was for most of its life before the puritans of New Jersey asphyxiated it. Ello lives in the shadow of the platform-controlled Internet doing its own thing. I have personally share one thing — just one message so far, but god, it is so much fun to waste a few minutes of my week looking at such beautiful art.
I might start staring my photos that don’t fit into any specific genre — my interpretive work. I know it would be at home on Ello!
January 24, 2019, San Francisco.