Diaspora, I might remind you, is a project by four New York University College students, to develop and code a social network that isn’t centralized and that allows users full control over who gets to see what they publish, post for post. It will not run on centralized servers – every user is to host their own data. Since May, when I last reported on the project, work has gone ahead.
The four have started coding, and with money they collected via Kickstarter, they could dedicate the summer to this project. Two of them now plan to take a leave from their studies to dedicate more time to this new pursuit.
Diaspora, consequently, is evolving from a college summer project into a long term commitment, according to an update on the Diaspora blog.
Recently, someone on facebook commented:
“…as of 07-22-10 FB hit the 500 million mark. It will be darn hard to get folks to give up completely on FB, even if another social network can gear up to take that high a percentage of the world population.”
to which I replied:
“It will certainly be hard to get an open source people’s network to stand up against facebook, but you never know. A lot of people use facebook only because there is no other, proper alternative. It’s not the platform that captivates them, but the possibility of interacting with their friends in an easy way…”
Consequently, I believe, once the new platform is ready, all bets are off. There is no predicting what will happen.
I sense a lot of discontent among friends – not so much over facebook privacy issues but over what’s perceived as facebook censorship. Groups that had explosive membership growth but vanished overnight, canceled by facebook’s staff, content that “has been flagged as abusive” and consequently can’t be published. Those are things people pay attention to, things that impede their communications and that make the facebook platform less reliable than we would like our communications tools to be.
So yes, while of course it will be difficult to run against a colossus that has hundreds of millions of members, if it is done with the right kind of platform, it might just work.
Unfortunately we aren’t there yet. In their blog update, the developers say that they will open source the code on September 15. That doesn’t mean users can start experimenting with it just yet. A first public issue is scheduled for October.
“September 15 will be our open-source developer release. At that time, we will open up our github repository, publish our roadmap, and shift our development style to be more community oriented. We intend on launching a consumer facing alpha in October. Join our mailing list to get an invite.”
Via DIASPORA – An overdue update