By now, all of your trendy or tech-savvy friends have mentioned Ello on Facebook. Probably both, since these days, the two aren't mutually exclusive. Ello's brand is minimalist, promising no ads, and as with many social networks first starting out, it requires an invitation to join. Despite that pretentiousness and the buggy, beta-version glitches, the trendiest, most tech-savvy men in our office were pining for an invite.
The Internet's ablaze with users cynically commenting on how a social-media site could never survive without ad money, but few can criticize the concept of a site with the potential to be as popular as Facebook without stalking us, raping us with ads and manipulating our feeds for obscure experiments. Ello plans to make money by offering apps and premium services for small fees. Whether the public is willing to pay remains a mystery.
Ello's translucence makes it seem as though it's on our side, and we could definitely use more companies that actually follow up on their promises. If history is any indication, something will take out Facebook eventually. But before then, let's take a moment to reflect on where we came from. . . .
AOL & Instant Messenger: It was all dial-up, boxy fonts and kitschy sound effects. But damn if we weren't excited to get an IM. Nowadays, if that man kept popping up with “You've Got Mail,” we'd be going postal.
Friendster: This social-media site boomed around the same time we lost Napster; it was the beginning of noticing how much we were all connected.
MySpace: Girls mostly went to town with backgrounds, glittery graphics and listing every band they'd ever heard of so people would think they were cultured. And you best believe feelings were hurt over Top Friends lists.