Odds are this post will seem anachronistic six months from now, but I’m still excited about the flash of interest in social-media upstart Ello, inspired in large part by Facebook’s continued incomprehension of some sociological fundamentals.
As I’ve noted in a few forums, Ello has picked up new accounts started by tech-savvy users, people who use stage names and other pseudonyms, and even news sites in the wake of a dust-up over Facebook’s draconian enforcement of its real-names policy to exile drag queens and other users who employ monikers other than their birth names (disproportionately targeting the LGBT community).
Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox last week ran a post apologizing for the crackdown and attributing it to one user reporting hundreds of drag performers. While the rules will remain the same, Cox wrote, the company will apply them with more sensitivity.
Cox’s assurances may have worked. (And I actually believe he’s being honest in his dismay about the unintended consequences of Facebook’s rules and the company’s wish to do better.) Anecdotally, I’m now seeing less interaction between users I’m following and Ello’s admittedly Spartan feature set.
But I’m still rooting for Ello to persevere, both because I’m enjoying the adventure of a new platform and the opportunity to think hard about Facebook’s critical mass in social media. Whatever Cox and Facebook consider the spirit of company policy, the letter remains very restrictive — and its enforcement hinges on enabling any user with any agenda to derail the account of another with a single confidential complaint.
There is at least one Rothenberg who’s taking real advantage of blogging as a tool for personal branding: my 81-year-old father Jerome Rothenberg, a lion of experimental poetry with more than 80 books to his credit.
My parents’ participation in the “little magazine” movement during the 1960s and ’70s inspired my own excitement about the DIY power of early desktop publishing in the 1980s. (I remember blue-lining literary magazines from about age seven.)
My folks have not slowed down, and my father hasn’t lost his interest in new ways to spread the word. He started his own blog, “Poems and Poetics,” in 2007, and he has built a substantial following based on his own reputation and his steady attention to adding new content that combines poetry with personal insight and autobiographical detail.
Jerome Rothenberg recently added a Facebook account to his arsenal, quickly picking up a set of fans along the way, and has been using it to great effect to promote the work on his blog. Next stop, Twitter?
Like Geraldo Rivera prying open “Al Capone’s vaults,” I broke a few electronic locks on this blog and slid into the dusty darkness. And like Geraldo, the results are pretty underwhelming — a few bottles here, some mummified rats in the corner, and not a lot of content.
For a blog titled “matthewrothenberg.com” — a blog that bears the domain of someone with decades in the business of communicating, mostly via the written word — this place really sucks. To start cleaning up this mess, I might as well consider how it got so musty and flyblown in the first place.
Confession #1: I only set up this blog as a container for my resume. Back in October 2006, my friend and then-Hachette colleague Chris Herring pointed out that while I’d been happily participating in social media for years (including curating the user-generated content for ZDNet News), I’d never gotten around to taking this simple step toward self-promotion. D’oh!
The last night of our tour, in Chicago, our host at the bookstore introduced Marc as CEO of TheLadders — then began to read off my bona fides as social technologist for Flickr! I stopped her and cleared up the confusion.
It was actually a great object lesson in our career guidance to Google yourself, the better to be ready for any identity UFOs.