Internet/Telecom/Social Media

Say Ello to the Great Firewall

ellnoThere’s a cyberwar on and we’re losing. The New York Times reports 10 financial institutions including JP Morgan Chase are compromised and we don’t know the extent of the damage. Home Depot, Target (asking for it), Ebay, P.F. Chang’s, the Montana Health Department, and Domino’s Pizza (Belgium and France), have all been attacked in 2014, more than 1,000 businesses in total.

Meanwhile the hot new social network startup Ello is capturing 20,000 users per day, despite grave warnings that their business model doesn’t make sense unless there’s something we don’t know about it. One rave review mentions the total lack of political content. Do you believe that all those creative free-thinking American citizens suddenly tacitly agreed to stop discussing politics when they joined this site? I joined up to ask them that very question.

Never got the chance. I crashed into a wall of beautiful information, one of a kind images, painting, skateboarding, street art, architecture, graphic design, animation, so much eye candy my brain took a dump. An hour later I remembered that I wanted to know something about this labyrinthine memory palace, a question what was it?

Politics, why is nobody talking about politics? My friend expressed curiosity about the lack of political discourse on the site. I should search for politics. Where’s the search feature? There isn’t one. Wait what’s this picture? Eventually I found out about If is a beta, then is an alpha, averaging five to ten results. The most I got was 97, keyword: love. You voluntarily sign up to be in Most people don’t.

Somehow I happened upon @spamking Adam Guerbuez. Interests include hacking, cracking, code, wealth, profit, BlackHat. Apparently, Zuckerberg sued this guy for $873 million. That’s a lot of spam money. Without an invite, he had an account in under 30 seconds. He advertised bots that could get you loads of follow backs, like one per second. He advertised stalking lessons, how you could use an IP address ( pay attention) to find out who and where anyone on the internet really exists.

And this guy, who knows hyperbolically more than me about computers and the internet, complained that he couldn’t find his friends, family, coworkers, or people living in the same city on, which is the same complaint I have. Anonymity works on because the site is searchable for content. On we have the alogrithm, the most popular posts, and the noise we choose to follow, but we can’t find our friends.

It comes down to whether the social network is really social, about real communication, or just entertainment, like TV. Ad free world class art is charming, but it’s not real life. Let us talk to each other. Tear down that wall.

4 replies »

  1. 1: I repeat, it’s in beta. Give them a little time to build stuff out. You don’t seriously think that somebody would build a social net without accounting for, you know, social, right?

    2: Are you seriously expending this kind of energy dogging a place that’s this friendly to art? No, that won’t be enough to sustain it, and yeah, they have to develop ways to feature non-visual art and to generate conversations around it (as well as around ideas, political, philosophical, social, whatever). But the fact that it’s so damned great as a platform for sharing the visual, that’s not a bad start.

  2. I quote Aral Balkan:

    “I told them I had worries that Ello was not free as in freedom and that it was centralised. I was assured they were aware that it was less than ideal but they simply didn’t have the resources to do it any other way at the moment. I tried to push them to open it up but I felt resistance that I (naïvely?) attributed to a lack of confidence in their code or fear that they may lose control. They seemed genuine in their desire to build an ad-free/privacy-respecting network and I felt like their hearts were in the right place. I knew Ello would not be the long-term solution we needed as it was closed and centralised but I thought it could be a good stopgap.”

    “The only way to fight the venture capital model is not to support the product in the first place. Venture capital is private subsidy that keeps the startup alive long enough until enough people have joined their platform. At this point, it’s too late. By being part of the platform we have created its value. This is the value that is sold in an exit. The only way to resist this system is to not build that value in the first place. Once a network has grown to the sort of size Facebook or Twitter has, there is very little anyone can do. But we have an opportunity to make sure that new networks that are funded by venture capital do not reach that point.”


    • I admire Balkan’s fervent moral purity. I’m still waiting for a feasible alternative, though. This is one of the pieces I alluded to in a previous post. I have an open mind, but I also understand that networks cost money. So it either comes from VCs. Or it comes from a really rich individual or established corp. Or somebody concocts the Kickstarter from hell.

      So you tell me.