[iDC] RE. Ello--Alternative to Facebook

matt g matt.lists at gmail.com
Tue Sep 30 14:09:30 UTC 2014

> I for one would pay such a fee to avoid the "dataveilance" on FB.

Well, there is/was the app.net model, which involved such a system. . .

I fear that it is just a matter of time before Ello closes due to the scale
of usage or monetizes user info to remain afloat. I sincerely hope it won't
come to that, but I share Karyn's concerns about the long-term viability of
the platform.

Despite what David described as the frustrating inefficiencies
grant-funded/university-sponsored efforts, I think that universities have a
key role to play in creating free and open alternatives to VC-funded
models. At CUNY, we have created the CUNY Academic Commons
<http://commons.gc.cuny.edu/> and abstracted that into a platform called The
Commons In A Box <http://commonsinabox.org/> (CBOX); CBOX was created
through grant funding by Sloan and has been sustained by funding by Mellon,
the NEH Office of Digital Humanities, and, importantly, by continued
investments by the City University of New York. The Commons is not a
perfect analogue to the microblogging model of twitter/ello, and it has its
flaws, but it is a free-software project that is built upon a stack of open
software projects (WordPress and BuddyPress), which it both draws from and
sustains (see this page
<http://dev.commons.gc.cuny.edu/free-software-contributions/> for
contributions we have made to larger software projects). And it has fed
sister projects both within and outside of CUNY, including the City Tech
OpenLab <https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/>, Blogs at Baruch
<http://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/>, the MLA Commons <http://commons.mla.org/>,
the ProjectMuse Commons <http://musecommons.org/>, and others

The point here is not so much about these specific projects but rather
about alternatives to the VC funding models that perhaps provide ways to
escape dependencies on "dataveilance." Can they scale? I am not sure, but
maybe "scale" is something we need to rethink in this context.


Matthew K. Gold, Ph.D.
Executive Officer, M.A. Program in Liberal Studies
Associate Professor of English & Digital Humanities
Advisor to the Provost for Digital Initiatives
City Tech & Graduate Center, City University of New York
http://cuny.is/mkgold | @mkgold

On Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:59 PM, Karyn Hollis <karyn.hollis at villanova.edu>

> Here's a very basic question.  Why would vulture capitalists put any money
> at all into Ello if they didn't hope to get a return on it?  And if they do
> hope to get a return, then as many have said, Ello must make money from
> users, right?  So ultimately Ello doesn't sound like much of an alternative
> to FB.
> And another question--since web hosting is not free (or are there free web
> hosts?), is charging a user fee the only way to fund a FB alternative?  I
> for one would pay such a fee to avoid the "dataveilance" on FB.
> Thanks to all for a great discussion.
> Karyn
> Karyn Hollis, Ph.D., English Department
> Director, Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric
> Associate Director, Cultural Studies Program
> Villanova University
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