First Impressions of Ello the newest social network on the block.

So I joined Ello. As a blogger reliant on social networks how could I not given the opportunity? And upon posting my brand spanking new  Ello profile asking for people to add to my list of people to follow I realised that very few people knew what it was.

Ok well I'm not an expert but I thought I'd share what little I know and my first impressions of the new ad-free network (launched in the summer) which describes itself as beautiful and simple and is frankly cooler than a Hipster's hairdo.
Ello icon
Ello icon

Friday night.  A bit bleary after a full-on week I did the basics after netting myself a golden ticket - an invite. I had applied on the website and got a "we will get round to you when we can" message. Hmm. Impatient woman that I am I Tweeted asking if any of my friends had spare invites - when you join you get 4 invitations to the network to share.

None of my Twitter friends replied but a random stranger who has obviously cracked the system said he had loads of codes - and following his link as warily as a rabbit entering a bear cave I was delighted to see it worked - I was in!

I was doing this on a mobile phone and soon got fed up of trying to navigate my way round (ios and android apps will soon be available)  and couldn't work out why my newly uploaded avatar was sideways. I gave up and went to bed.

This morning I have turned myself the right way up and even managed to post - simple once you've read the charmingly and aptly named WTF FAQ section!

Following people is somewhat more difficult - Avatars are largely random and anonymous and user names with the "borrowed" @ in front unintelligible. I instinctively used @madmumof7 as I do on pretty much all my networks as I want to be found but with a collection of artists and trendies maybe they want to stay anonymous?

Or maybe its that people either haven't worked out how to get on there or actually can't be arsed with another new network?

The timeline-type arrangement is gorgeously elegant- pages of beautiful graphics - it's like wandering though a terribly hip East London art gallery. I of course want to share my blog posts - including links is easy and it seems if you have real html ability the sky's the limit! I don't.

You can share images, video, sound files and of course boring old text publicly and via private messages. There are lots of high-blown statements about how Ello is above other networks - the developers even have a manifesto which they encourage members to share - check it out!

Your social network is owned by advertisers.
Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.
You are not a product.
Ah bless - they care about me.

You separate your followers into friends or noise - harsh terminology but that's Ello for you. Like a teen showing off in front of Granny but I love it. I predictably forgot my password  - hit "forgot" and got an email stating "shit happens" with the link to reset. I laughed - some I suppose might be offended but Ello isn't aimed at them.

Ello thinks big - it's in Beta and lots of features are promised day on day. It's clean, a bit bewildering for this 45 year old but I was bewildered by Twitter at first and now I love it. With more and more people frustrated by Facebook's increasingly dictatorial style it might prove to be a breath of fresh air - or it might be another Google+ which we all joined but are not entirely sure what we can do with it. Hands up (non bloggers) if you've ever joined a Hangout? Yes, that's what I thought.

For bloggers it's another weapon in our social networking arsenal. I've already posted a link to my Ello profile on my "contact me" page. For geeks it's a joy, a playground of exploration and a chance to boast about being an early adopter. For the rest of the world - probably a big fat Meh!

PS: Tried to add a Twitter friend who gave me her Ello handle - couldn't find her. Not to worry she said, I'll find you. Nope. So you have the added fun of a Quest complete with mirrors and smoke as you try to track down your friends using only their official Ello name- good luck worthy knight!