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robertogreco : ello   3

Ello | quinn
"Ello needs to make money, and that means Ello eventually needs to charge someone. So who can it charge? The only way to make the massive returns VCs like is to charge companies or governments. These are the only thing in our society rich enough to consistently feed the VC mouths. (this is why I strongly recommend against taking VC money -- it's much like adopting 15 children at once, it limits your options.) The only thing a social network can sell to companies are its users. It could work, to have Ello sponsored by X corporation for a given day or week or whatever, but in this business environment part of X corporation's demand for its money is going to be user data. So there you're back to tracking your users like everyone else. Ello could charge databrokers and governments for their user data too, but that also drives them towards being Facebook, Twitter, etc.

That leave Ello to charge their users. This is a fine business model and the one that has supported more things for most of human history. I like this model, I even pay for online services now, though not many -- not many are worth it, and they usually track me anyway. Asking users to pay allows Ello to do something no other online company is doing right now -- optimize Ello for users. This is a great advantage for Ello, because it would mean they could actually listen to users and give them an experience that would, given enough time, be so much better than the massive social networks that people would love joining Ello.

But of course this is a problem too... most users can't pay. Some people like to complain, say that we deserve to be surveiled because no one is willing to pay for anything. This is a ridiculous statement, people all over the world are paying for things every day of their lives. But until we do something about the distribution of the world's wealth, the vast majority of people, even those with internet access, will find that paying a high enough amount for it to be worthwhile for Ello to collect it will cause a real decline in their quality of life.

obligatory graph:

hmm, I can't get obligatory graph to load. I less than three you, betas. ;) Anyway.

The only people that can pay Ello right now are in that top wealth quintile, and then probably the top 2/3rds of it at best. But social networks are like languages -- they are only worthwhile when they are broadly adopted. This makes an incredibly compelling case for user tracking and adverts, since success as a broad network makes the most sense by giving network access away and then selling the people to companies. This is a hard model to escape, to be honest, and it always has been. Companies and governments are essentially colonizing the internet, extracting, monetizing, and controlling the humans therein just like they did during the colonial period, only with less physical violences. Facebook is essentially John Company.

There are only two ways I can see that Ello can escape getting crushed by the contemporary versions of John Company (which did a huge amount of crushing in its day). One is to beat them at their own game and become the next John Company/Facebook/etc, which means becoming better at colonial extraction on users -- most likely in the growth arena -- actual former colony nations. If they don't have the stomach for this kind of evil, and and I deeply hope they don't, the other way is to make far less money. To be, compared to the big VC funded players, a small business with hopeful growth over the course of decades, not quarters.

This is going to mean working out something no one has been able to yet -- differential pricing on the net. The best system of payment they could have, with a magic wand and a fairy godmother etc interceding would be to extract something like $.25 a day from users in the top billion, maybe $.05 a day from the next billion, and possibly nothing or money losing from users in the last 3 billion. The problem is that people hate differential pricing, see it as unfair, when they can see it. They can't see income inequality all the time in their houses and neighborhoods and work places, so that doesn't bother them. They can't see massive surveillance and manipulation, so that doesn't bother them. But dear god, when they see a price list with differential pricing, people go purple with rage. So that's a problem.

Nowadays there's a lot you can do with geolocating IPs, and showing people variable content based on where they are. This could mean that Ello could price based on that, and for now, I believe that's their best option. But no VC will ever accept that, and chances are if Ello has or ever will take VC, they are already dead and just don't know it yet. Their chances of beating Facebook are next to none, especially as they would have to betray everything they've said they were about, and there is no other model that could feed the VC mouth.

Introducing variable pricing, pricing on features, and multiple payment systems over time could let Ello developers make a comfortable living. But at no time in the near future would it make them .com millionaires. To make Ello compelling and free of surveillance and extraction means making a service many can use and doesn't cost too much. Eventually, wide enough adoption to be meaningful to the world means opening it up and making it a protocol other people can build businesses on that don't provide much or any revenue for Ello. It means striving to enter that most dreaded of economic states -- becoming a commodity.

Making social networking a common commodity could remake the world, like the world wide web, or vaccination did. But like the world wide web and vaccination, they aren't ever going to let Paul Budnitz become Cornelius Vanderbilt or Mark Zuckerberg. He'd have to settle for the hope that a lifetime of hard work and enough money to live could let him be Tim Berners-lee or Jonas Salk.

So, Ello, what do you want?"

[See also: http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2014/09/hello-ello.html ]
ello  quinnnorton  2014  jonassalk  markzuckerberg  corneliusvanderbilt  vc  venturecapital  business  monetization  funding  advertising  privacy  socialmedia  variablepricing  pricing 
september 2014 by robertogreco
POSZU
"Some thoughts about Ello, the new social network of the moment.

Spoiler Alert: Ello will one day suck.

Take this as network pessimism if you want, or take it as a dare for Ello to last as long as it can. I was excited about Facebook once, and joined because I thought it might be everything that was good about the internet communities that I knew and loved. It wasn't. So I quit. There were blogs and I loved those, Twitter was amazing, but Google killed blogs along with RSS and now Twitter takes turns being tiresome and emotionally draining. I still have a blog, and I still use Twitter. But for how long?

Networks are important to us. My entire line of work stems from Twitter--it's how I get jobs. But I'm not going to either let it suck me under or go down with it furiously trying to bail. And I know many of you do important advocacy work to make sure that networks are egalitarian in their accessibility; i.e. as potentially fun for all as they are for some. But there are so many places that need defending.

My point is, for what little it might be worth: it doesn't seem that we are going to find the one resilient network that stands the test of time. We're never going to re-invent and preserve that one moment when everything seemed like it was going to be perfect for ever. At the risk of cascading waves of nostalgia for networked bliss that echo the non-existent generation of the golden age of newspapers, novels, radio, paintings, or whatever, we must reject this Christian utopianism. It is better, I think, to live out of our cars, so to speak, than try to set up roots on a terrain that is not solid, owned by others, and often times doesn't exist.

The best situations are those in which, when someone begins complaining, I can say, "great idea, how can I support you fixing that?" Instead of complaining about being hungry, you start chopping up vegetables. We commit to things, we ally ourselves with them, and invest in the project to give it some lasting life. But networks aren't like that. You can't really crowd-source building an interstate highway (or lack of one) without a state, as it turns out. A personal boycott isn't going to thwart Walmart. States and corporations are things that are bigger than us. They don't care what we think, and see no problem in running us over rather than slowing down. That doesn't mean they are permanent. It just means that history is going to be beset by disappointment and tragedies, because the people with the right ideas throwing themselves at the system just aren't big enough. Because of the frightening scale of our current networks, some of these tragedies are large enough to potentially kill us all. Far better than preparing to throw yourself underneath the wheels, is preparing to run.

Luckily, the fate of Ello isn't as cataclysmic as all this. But I am still fairly convinced that it will one day suck. Could be six months, three years, or ten years. I don't know when, and I don't know exactly why. But this particular network is being controlled by someone other than me, and I'm not going to barge into their offices and demand that they make changes that will satisfy my idea of what is not suck. Networks couldn't be more important, but to me, they couldn't be less worth it. Instead, I'll just leave when it is time to do so. I am fairly convinced that I will use a succession of social network like things for the rest of my life. Eventually, someone might really get it, and fix all the things, so that I feel good using a particular social network for more than six years of its evolution. But right now, that seems unlikely. (Just a single example: if a social network can't figure out that it will need a block button on its own, I don't have much hope for it's survival. There are tens of other examples.)

It's been said that the ability to not be connected is the greatest privilege of all. But as someone who regularly has his cell phone shut off because he can't pay to re-up his SIM, I know where all the open WiFi networks are in my immediate area. There's two ways of dealing with the raw deal at the bottom of the network customer food chain. You either give all your money to the ISP and spend all your time begging and pleading with them to not disconnect you. Or you get ready for when the internet is shut off, and you have a contingency plan.

See you all on IRC after the fire."
adamrothstein  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  networks  twitter  ello  cv  nomadism  digitalnomadism  resilience  onlycrash  nomads  neo-nomads  ephemeral  intentionalephemeral  migration  digitalmigration  2014  ephemerality 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | scrawledinwax
"1) Digital social structure is a bit like a first date: the initial tone sets up what comes next.

2) For now, Imma ignore Waxy's post from earlier today. Instead, I'm curious about what it means to produce a space with the same socio-structural parameters as Twitter: asynchronous socializing, reverse chronology - and maybe most importantly, an open social list--follow anyone and follow as many people as you want.

3) That structure means that, at least for me, my initial instinct was just to follow people whose names I recognized, or I know say cool things (or both). That means that very quickly, my feed filled up with things that, as with Twitter, are smart and interesting and possibly too much.

4) Stepping back, I realized what I want from a social network currently is constraint and safety.

5) I want the former because I think stricture is now a more important parameter than choice when, returning to the same Deleuzian point I always return to, the infinite multiple comes first, the individual subtraction second. I think "no" is the operative word, not "yes".

6) I want the latter for different reasons. Maybe I chose the wrong word. As a straight male, I've never experienced harassment online, and for some reason, I've never been subject to very much explicit racial abuse (though plenty of assumptions that I know less than others). But when I say safety, what I mean is that I want to be able to talk about ideas without: a) the risk of a semi-private statement spilling out in the into the public; b) that I can talk with people who are, in a general, roundabout way, like-minded. It's not so much that I want an echo chamber as to have one or two spaces where the comfort of familiarity and an interpersonal history lends itself to what is, for very clear and understandable reasons, missing from the structure of Twitter: an assumption that you meant well, and that you are willing to engage and learn when you fuck up. Twitter is a network in which, for reasons I can't quite figure out yet/articulate, foregrounds positionality - i.e highlights and amplifies the relationship between a subject position and an utterance. That linkage has more more wiggle room amongst friends; for me to talk publicly about feminism is unnecessary, but privately amongst (mixed) friends, can be enlightening and healthy. And I suppose that that's party what I want from a digital social structure: some sense of limit so one can make mistakes and learn, without the significant affective and psychological consequences that come from doing it on a place Twitter."
twitter  ello  socialmedia  navneetalang  socialnetworks  discourse  constraint  conversation  trust  safety  networks  socializing  social  2014  goodwill 
september 2014 by robertogreco

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