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Lions Roar : January 2015
is what’s being bought and sold. The result of being ad-based is that you are then motivated to get as much user-data as possible because the more you have, the more valuable those names are when you sell them to advertisers. Or, you might make your site more complicated to use, because the more that people click around, the more ads they can be shown. And then you’re motivated to put ads inside people’s streams so when we’re all talking to our friends about something personal, suddenly an under- wear ad pops up. And then because of that, some posts by people we actually care about get buried by something that’s been paid for? But Ello doesn’t have ads or sell user data. A reporter asked me yesterday, “What is the demographic of your users?” We don’t know. We don’t know their height, their sex, where they’re com- ing from—and we don’t need to. All we need to do is make a great social network, and that’s where all our energy goes. What will it mean to be an Ello user? A basic tenet of Ello is personal respon- sibility. The only thing we require to get on Ello is an email address and for you to follow our rules: general good con- duct, no hate, no doing mean things. If you do mean things, we will nuke your account right away. Otherwise, however you wish to use Ello, you’re welcome to do that. And that’s led to beautiful stuff, such as people who are using Ello more like an art project than a social network where we’re all putting up pictures of our cats and our picnics. This one user, “DuaneKing,” is just putting up pictures of people in spacesuits and rocket ships. It’s like the most beautiful coffee table book you’ve ever seen! Another is just posting fields of color, like an Ellsworth Kelly painting. And then others are talk- ing about their lives. It can be anything, really. It’s who we decide to present our- selves to be. And I think that’s a fairly accurate way to look at human beings. I read something in a book by Uchi- yama Roshi. He said, there’s this great debate in Zen: what if you have good intentions but you do bad things? Is that okay? Or, what if you have bad inten- tions but you do good things? For me, it doesn’t matter what you think or intend, or what Facebook thinks or intends. It only matters what we do. Is that the guiding principle for Ello? It’s one of them, yeah. It’s the same with Budnitz Bicycles. They’re made to last forever; a titanium frame will never rust or corrode. The guiding principle there was, rather than going out and buying a piece of junk—and then another and another until suddenly your garage is filled with rusting bicycles—why not buy one good thing, and take care of it? And then allow yourself to fall in love with it, and even to be heartbroken if you lose it? Disposability has environmental implications but there’s also the prob- lem that when we buy things that are disposable we aren’t allowing ourselves to fall in love with them. Have you ever gone to a garage sale and picked up an old tool that’s clearly been used for years by one person, and it’s handmade, and they obviously oiled it and loved it? That principle goes behind our bicycles. They cost more, so there’s a greater sacrifice to own them, but then you get to appreciate them and, if you ever lose your bike, you get to be heartbroken. Which is a privi- lege—because you don’t get to be heart- broken if you don’t fall in love. All this sounds nice, but you must have your naysayers. I’ve seen a lot of cynicism, especially about the idea that we can actually build a website that’s not based on ads. But lots of people are bemoaning the fact that the Internet has become a big billboard. So we’ve come along and said, Hey, we can do this differently, and we’re willing to try. A whole lot of people have lined up with us, but still there’s this cynicism: “Oh, they’ll never do it.” But I have a long history of creating profitable companies. And that’s where we’re going. ♦ ALSO AVAILABLE: Books, DVDs, Programs, Workshops, Events, Tours, Coaching See more at: lionsroar.com/auction Teachings that benefit your life. CDs from SOUNDS TRUE shambhala sun january 2015 21