Say 'ello to Ello, which could be the first private social network

All you find on the website are the words "Simple, beautiful & ad-free," along with a box where you can add your e-mail, requesting an invite. The concept behind the site is Ello, a planned private social network that could be the next Facebook -- make that the anti-Facebook. And it's the brainchild of a few Denver area creatives: Paul Budnitz, a filmmaker who's the founder of Budnitz Bicycles and Kidrobot, along with Todd Berger and Lucien Fohr, the principles of Boulder-based graphic design firm Berger & Fohr. Other than that, there hasn't been a lot of information available about Ello, beyond the fact that it will be advertising-free...and its name might be inspired by the Cockney pronunciation of "hello." But last week, a manifesto expanded on the plan for this soon-to-be private social-network site:
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.

And if you want to know more about the product that ello plans to be, you can request an invite or click to find out more about the founders.

After enlisting Berger and Fohr, Budnitz tells Daily Dot, "We called up friends at the boutique programming collective Mode Set, and they jumped in right away. Total enthusiasm -- which was kind of amazing, given that nobody was getting paid It's become something of a supergroup, a collection of some of the most talented artists and programmers working together, for free, on this amazing project....Because Ello doesn't have ads, it can also have integrity. Every bit of screen real estate and programming power goes to making an awesome network. There's no army of ad salesmen telling us what to do."

And what, exactly, will Ello do? Stay tuned. From our archives: "Five rules for making sure nobody reads your band's Twitter or Facebook."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Isa Jones is an editor in Jackson Hole; her writing has appeared all over the Internet and occasionally in print.
Contact: Isa Jones