What is Diaspora?

September 22, 2011 § 1 Comment


September 22, 2011,

Over the last year or two, Diaspora has been telling the world it is coming and making a lot of big promises. They have also spent some time claiming that new features in places like Facebook and Google+ are inspired by their work (based on what people in the know might have shared).

While I love the concepts they espouse, I am curious to see if they can actually do this in such a way that is more compelling than the current options out there. Also, this sounds to me a little like  MySpace – “we give you the tools and you design the experience.” This was an interesting experiment, but had a big impact on why MySpace did not succeed.

Therefore, I ask the question…what is the point of too much control for people to have over their own experience. This might just be the next experiment to answer that question.

If you are curious about Diaspora….below is the latest email to people on the beta list, which offers a fairly good explanation about what Diaspora is.

Thanks again for your interest in joining the Diaspora* community, and for your patience. We’re working on getting your invite out to you as quickly as possible, and we’re still committed to getting it to you by the end of October. We’re pushing out hundreds of thousands of invitations as quickly as we can — thanks for bearing with us.

As promised in our previous message, we want to tell you a little more about why we believe so strongly in Diaspora*’s mission: to build a new and better social web, one that’s 100% owned and controlled by you and other Diasporans.

Diaspora*’s distributed design is a huge part of it. Like the Internet itself, Diaspora* isn’t housed in any one place, and it’s not controlled by any one entity (including us). We’ve created software that lets you set up and run your own social network on your own “pod” (or server) and connect your network to the larger Diaspora* ecosystem. You can have a pod all to yourself, or one for just you and your friends, or your family, giving you complete ownership and control over your personal social information (including your identity, your posts, and your photos) and how it’s all stored and shared. Or you can simply join one of more than 20 open pods.[1]

This means you can do what you want. You can express yourself candidly, and be your authentic self. You can go by whatever name you like on Diaspora*. Pseudonyms are fine, and this both protects you (if you want to say something your boss or your parents disagree with) and opens the door to real connection. Here’s how one blogger and Diasporan put it:

Maybe his kind words mean so much to me because T is someone I’ve met through a [pseudo]nym — he got to know the real me’s ideals and beliefs, and liked that person… A compliment from [him] is based on my own sincerity, and thus, has a certain purity. It is untainted by perceptions of how I look, what I’m wearing, and so on. Given that, I value it especially highly.[2]

This kind of authentic connection brings back the social freedom that made the Internet awesome in the first place. And this is just the beginning.

You can make great connections with anyone in the Diaspora* ecosystem, not just the people on your own pod, because the pods are linked together.

You can also use Diaspora* as a home base for your outbound posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, writing to them all from Diaspora*. In the future, you’ll be able to monitor your inbound streams from Diaspora* as well.

Yet our distributed design means no big corporation will ever control Diaspora*. Diaspora* will never sell your social life to advertisers, and you won’t have to conform to someone’s arbitrary rules or look over your shoulder before you speak.

And because your information is yours, not ours, you’ll have the ultimate power — the ability to move your profile and all your social data from one pod to another, without sacrificing your connection to the social web. Over time, this will bring an end to the indifferent, self-serving behavior that people can’t stand[3] from the walled gardens that dominate social networking today. When you can vote with your feet for the environment where you feel safest, the big guys will have to shape up, or risk losing you.

We’re still building this move-your-profile capability, as well as other key features. It’s hard work, but we’re building the future we want to see, with incredible community support.

Diaspora* is a genuine community effort. More than 160 people have contributed to our code, putting us in the top 2% of all open source projects tracked by Ohloh.[4] Hundreds more volunteers have translated Diaspora* into 13 of the world’s spoken languages so far, with another 32 translations in progress. Thousands of Diasporans have given us more than 3,000 points of feedback. (We’re listening closely, and building the features you’re asking for as fast as we can.) And of course, thousands of donors have helped pay for our development, and hundreds of thousands of people — including you — are patiently waiting for access to try it out.

Thanks again for your patience. We can’t wait to see you here, and to build a brighter future together.

As usual all comments are welcome.

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