Diaspora*

Diaspora* Dandy Logo

When I first read about The Diaspora* project, I didn’t think too much of it. Also, to me the word “diaspora” has a slighty negative connotation, which didn’t help. But, I read their blog anyway, as you do. Alas, it didn’t grab my attention, because I hadn’t a clue what they were on about. Then, the project kept popping up in articles, on blogs and on Twitter, so I read up on it again, this time with a bit more curiosity, and decided my first thoughts were wrong. I should have been interested, because, it is – in fact – very interesting.

So now, I am very much looking forward to the launch of Diaspora*, which is anticipated to go online in September 2010. Diaspora promises to be “The privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source social network”. It was first brought to life early 2010 by 4 NY university students, who wanted a more controlled social network (read: get rid of some of the privacy issues and shortcomings by the likes of Facebook). Like many other webjunkies, I use Facebook quite extensively, because I haven’t found a suitable alternative that pleases me. The privacy issues keep bugging me – but I am too fond of it to actually walk away. So bring on Diaspora*, which will hopefully allow me to do just that: Adios Facebook, Ola Diaspora*.

A quick explanation of what Diaspora* will entail:

It will host a social network on an open sourced personal web-server, which they refer to as “Seeds”. It will allow for users to have full control of which information they share and will include several applications that will allow for cross-media interaction. Basically, in a very short description: It will be your one-in-all-central-hub for social networking. Like most social networks, it will run OpenID and include instant messaging options. Additionally, they are planning to implement VoIP (Voice Over communications in IP), so users can speak in realtime to each other as an alternative to chatting.

Diaspora* started off as an underground movement against Facebook, but have managed – in a very short time – to get themselves noticed and have by far exceeded the funds they intended to collect, through the online platform KickStart. ($10.000 anticipated – £200,642 raised). According to Wired Magazine, even Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s Founder) has donated to Diaspora*, despite the project being a direct competitor of Facebook. Zuckerberg claims he “appreciated their drive to change the world” although his press office never confirmed this statement.

I know I am not alone in wanting the project to kick off soon and be succesful, many other geeks have been following the project closely and are like little children waiting for the ice-cream van to pass by. The only issue I see is how the general public (read: the less geeky user) will react to Diaspora* and whether they will love or hate it. Or to quote Finn Brunton from an interview in the NY Times, who said it so much better than I can:

There have been at least two other attempts at decentralized networks, Mr. Brunton said, but he thought the Diaspora* group had a firmer plan. Its quick success in raising money, he said, showed the discontent over the state of privacy on the social sites. “We will have to see how widely this will be adopted by the non-nerds,” Mr. Brunton said. “But I don’t know a single person in the geek demographic who is not freaked out” by large social networks and cyber warehouses of information.

So far my thoughts on The Diaspora* Project – Expect feedback on it in september!

Are you waiting for the project to launch? Do you think it will succeed? Will the general public like it? Please share your thoughts or critiques in the comment section!

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3 thoughts on “Diaspora*

  1. isje says:

    Interesting, I hadn’t heard of this project yet.
    Though privacy is a big issue with Facebook, I doubt the general public cares about it. Neither do I, actually.

    I hope Diaspora can be an alternative to Facebook (just because i’m not a fan of monopolies on any kind of market), but I don’t really see enough advantages of using Diaspora versus Facebook to make an effort to change. But maybe I’m just clueless, or not enough of a geek 🙂

  2. Simon says:

    It all sounds good on paper, but unless Diaspora can give the casual user some real differentiation from Facebook, they aren’t going to make it. Social networks are particularly susceptible to the chicken and egg theory, where people will use the social networks that their friends use, but no one will move until their friends do.

  3. sNarah says:

    Thanks for you comments Isje & Simon – Yes, I do believe both of you have valid points:
    1) It’d be nice to see Diaspora* be succesfull but at the moment Facebook offers a “one-in-all” package that is going to be very hard to beat.
    2) Like Simon notes, it all depends how many people jump onto the bandwagon and make the switch. “Geeks” will be first, and will be delighted at it. Hopefully, they’ll be able to attract the average users too but that might a challenge considering they will offer a very techy product.

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