By Kate Spiers
In its own words, Diaspora is the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all open source social network. Strapline: Decentralize the web. This is a timely mission, given current debate around privacy and control online.
It will work like this: Each user has a ‘seed’ which they own and host where they choose. Seeds will be able to connect directly to others, rather than via a mid-way platform where privacy is surrendered in any way. The seed aggregates all of your information (FB updates, pictures, blog posts, tweets etc) and you can share with whomever you like over a direct and secure connection. More power to you.
So yes, it will snap at the heels of Facebook in particular. Recent privacy issues with Facebook make this a truly viable alternative for those who have voted with their feet and jumped ship, or who plan to. The promise of full power over your data could surely not have come at a better time…
Why should I care?
So many reasons:
Diaspora goes live on 15 September as an open-source developer release, with the alpha consumer version launching in October, so expect plenty of build up and analysis – there’s no getting away from this baby.
Super-interesting to us on 2 major counts:
- It’s a Kickstarter project, crowdfunded on a spectacular scale. The initial $10 000 goal was swiftly surpassed and a total of 6479 backers pledged over $200 000. There is appetite for this in spades. But backing the project with $50 is different to investing our time, effort and trust in a brand new platform. The rate of adoption will be the true measure.
- A new way of sharing online comes to the fore. How will this affect the rest of the centralised web? Is the mood turning? Will Facebook lose users and how will it respond? One way or another, we suspect Diaspora will make its mark.
Anything else I should know?
This is the work of a group of 4 NYU computer science students, Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
The group was inspired to create Diaspora by a February 5, 2010 speech by Columbia University law professor Eben Moglen to the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, “Freedom in the Cloud”, in which Moglen described centralized social networks as “spying for free.”
Features will include: Secure filesharing, instant messaging, VoIP, encrypted backups and OpenID.
Ever Wondered About is a new series on the Wisdom London blog, where Kate Spiers and Jill Ruthenberg aim to demystify and explore what’s shaping our social interactions. Coming up: Ning, Paper.li and PPC. Wondering about anything else? Tell us and we’ll investigate!
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