This is the second in a series of articles on Diaspora
, which many of you have been waiting for. We will soon be shedding more light on the current status of the project, and readers will have a chance to ask questions which Mathaba
may ask the Diaspora team.
Back in April, the Diaspora development team introduced the project as follows:
Diaspora – the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network
We are four talented young programmers from NYU’s Courant Institute
trying to raise money [Mathaba: they have since raised over $200,000 from more than 6,400 backers] so we can spend the summer building Diaspora; an
open source personal web server that will put individuals in control of
What is it?
Enter your Diaspora “seed,” a personal web server that stores all of
your information and shares it with your friends. Diaspora knows how to
securely share (using GPG)
your pictures, videos, and more. When you have a Diaspora seed of your
own, you own your social graph, you have access to your information
however you want, whenever you want, and you have full control of your
online identity. Once we have built a solid foundation, we will make
Diaspora easy to extend to facilitate any type of communication, and the
possibilities will be endless.
For a little more detailed explanation, checkout this blog post.
What is the project about?
We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually
exclusive. With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our
social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms. We
think we can replace today’s centralized social web with a more secure
and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and
it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub.
Why are we building it?
This February, Eben Moglen, Columbia law professor and author of the latest GPL, gave a talk on Internet privacy.
As more and more of our lives and identities become digitized, Moglen
explains, the convenience of putting all of our information in the hands
of companies on “the cloud” is training us to casually sacrifice our
privacy and fragment our online identities.
But why is centralization so much more convenient, even in an age
where relatively powerful computers are ubiquitous? Why is there no good
alternative to centralized services that, as Moglen pointed out, comes
with "spying for free?” Why do we keep our personal data in a thousand
places? We have the technology, someone just needs to take the time to
figure out how we can communicate smoothly and intuitively, without the
hidden costs of “the cloud”. As good programmers, when we noticed that
the application we need doesn’t exist, we set out to fill the hole in
our digital lives.
Why do we need money?
[Mathaba: This section shows the original thinking. However, 20 times the intended amount of $10,000 was raised]
We have a plan, a bunch of ideas
and the programming chops to build Diaspora. What we need is the time
it takes to iron out a powerful, secure, and elegant piece of software.
Daniel, Ilya, Raphael, and Maxwell are all ready to trade our
internships and summer jobs for three months totally focused on building
Diaspora. We want to write code all the time, everyday. Once we have
made our first solid iteration, we are going to release our code as free software
so everyone can make Diaspora even better. $10,000 buys the software
for everyone who wants to use it, forever. We think it can change the
way people communicate and empower individuals to permanently take
control of their online identities.
After we open source our source code, we hope to also provide a paid turnkey hosted service in the vein of Wordpress.com
to make it easy for people who want to use Diaspora, but don’t want to
deal with the fuss of setting it up - (this service will be available a few months after the end of the summer.) We will make it easy to export
your data and configuration, so if you decide you want to graduate and
host your seed yourself, you are free to do so at anytime.
Our goal is for everyone to have full control over their data and to
empower people to become responsible, secure, and social Internet
dwellers. We believe offering this service will be helpful to
non-technical users who are also worried about their data and privacy
We promise to you that Diaspora will be aGPL software which will released at the end of the summer.
[Mathaba: That time is now, and we'll be reporting on the upcoming release of Diaspora soon!]
The reason so many people use social networks such as Facebook
, is because there are very few alternatives out there. Diaspora, is to be such an alternative. Its popularity will certainly depend upon ease of use, and how many others will make the step to use it. At Mathaba however, we're optimistic. We believe intelligent people, and those who care about their privacy and security
will make the move.
Don't miss the next part in this series on Diaspora! Sign up for free to get updates by Email here, or follow us on Twitter. If you have questions you'd like us to ask Diaspora, let us know via Twitter by sending a Tweet starting with @mathaba - thank you.Please share this article, so that your friends and contacts too may know of what is coming up, and be ready to join Diaspora as soon as it launches. And do support our media coverage of this exciting development by joining Flattr for as little as $2 a month! Click on the Flattr button: