Enter Diaspora*

· 5 min read
Yesterday a group of NYU students released the codebase to Diaspora. Immediately afterwards I started reading articles calling it too little, too late. Articles that go on to point out that Facebook has too many users to let anything get past it. I think that this is quite shortsighted and just dismissing Diaspora is a mistake, a very big mistake actually. Diaspora, as I see it, is the social network on which other social networks will be built. Maybe it wont be Diaspora, maybe it'll be Appleseed, maybe itll be something else. The truth remains however: Open, distributed social networks will have a big part in our future. But! Facebook, is too big to fail. Is it? MySpace was huge, Newscorp bought it because of that reason. Nobody knows who Tom is anymore. Friendster? AOL? ICQ? All of these services are still around but are but a skeleton of what they used to be. There's a big difference between online and relevant. Either way, Diaspora is not here to destroy Facebook it's here to give users choice. There is really no alternative to Facebook if you want a clean online profile this will change soon. Will it get to 500M users? Probably not, but the part people forget is that... Nobody is going to host their own seeds. Hosting your own seed is too complicated, people would have to actually care about what theyre doing and keep up with updates to the base code and I'm sure most people would not want to and actually nobody has to, you pick where your seed lives. Diaspora mainly describes a connection method, there is no need for a central site to store all the information. The way I see it this is something that companies like last.fm would love to enable for their users. A whole lot of music centric seeds. You'd store your profile there, and it'd talk to everyone else, the site where you joined from does not matter because all sites can talk to each other. If you want to think of the possibilities of this, think of it this way, what if Facebook itself gained Diaspora capabilities? If Facebook could read/write to Diaspora seeds, you'd have the universal network, and people could still use Facebook if they wanted. What am I talking about? Facebook has its own IM network right? Well that IM network is based on Jabber. Completely open. I connect to Facebook IM through iChat on my mac. It's in Facebook's interest for people to keep using Facebook. There are people who refuse to join Facebook on principle, those people could be swayed by something like Diaspora because they'd get to talk to their friends, and share things about themselves without having to give others this information. Is this a best-case scenario? yes. I'm just thinking of what the possibilities are. Also, remember Diaspora never said anything about them wanting to be the next Facebook, they want to give you choice. You've just been given choice. A social network is nothing more than a way to communicate with others. There is no reason for anyone to have to go out of their way to do this by signing into a specific site, or using specific software. It should be ubiquitous in any and all sites/applications. This is that first step.