Is Diaspora too late

Is Diaspora too late

Summary: Most of the attention is focused on the idea of aspects, sub-groups of friends that let you separate your boss from your mistress, or your wife from the guys you go to Vegas with.


Diaspora is finally available, to a select group of investors and mailing list actives.

The base code was released a few months ago. Now they want to find out if the Ruby on Rails infrastructure can handle a small load. (Twitter says your problems come with a large load.)

Most of the media attention is focused on Diaspora's concept of aspects, sub-groups within your list of friends who represent different aspects of your life. Just as you don't want your boss joining your poker game, or your wife seeing your mistress, Diaspora thinks aspects deliver the choice, ownership and simplicity Facebook lacks.

The Facebook response has been to deliver a groups feature, which they say does many of the same things. Maybe, maybe not.

The real question is how Diaspora might seek to monetize itself, without creating the privacy trips that some say tripped up Facebook.

Of course many say those trips didn't trip up Facebook at all. The site is still growing. It's now a dominant presence on the Web, bigger (it sometimes says) than Google itself (although they're about completely different things).

The challenge for Diaspora -- for any challenger -- is convincing masses of people to try a second social network. The open argument worked against AOL back in the day, but Facebook is on the real Internet and uses open source tools for its development.

If people can be convinced to join, then Diaspora has to scale its development process. Facebook is organized. It has gone through that process. You're not going to maintain a competitor with just the four partners, no matter how well they code.

So in the end this becomes a business battle. Is Facebook vulnerable as Yahoo was or impregnable as Google is?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile we have the illustration above, from the Diaspora home page. Is it a small group of flies deserting a seal carcass on the beach? Seagulls landing on a rock? The Rapture?

After you've had your turkey come back and play the game of let me know.

Topics: Google, Open Source, Privacy

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  • Not privacy - distribution.

    Come on Dana you've been reporting on IT for long enough to realize noone cares about the few additional privacy settings diaspora might have. People are interested and invested in Diaspora because it is distributed, because it introduces competition between the providers, because everyone can host his own profile. Noone cares about diaspora - the website. It's all about the software. It doesn't matter the least bit if they manage to make a buck of it - the software will always be continuously developped by its users - be it single users, or large companies trying to monetize it - just look at the amount of code contribution they already claim. And even more important than the software are the protocols - even if ruby doesn't scale, we might see php or python or C portals that can communicate with other diaspora nodes.

    It'll be awesome.
    • RE: Is Diaspora too late

      @yannh Maybe you're right.
    • RE: Is Diaspora too late

      @yannh, spot-on! He needed that. IMHO, Dana is lately to focused on looking for that smell of money, that green papery stuff that dreams are made of.... -- only.

      • RE: Is Diaspora too late

        @scallag Yes, I admit to being a business reporter. I've been doing it professionally since 1978. I freely admit there are other values in play other than money, but money has a way of sustaining all sorts of values. I myself take regular injections of money from my work. So do you most likely.
  • It's not about the service, but about the software

    No, Diaspora will not crush facebook. Why would they want to? Diaspora will be great because you can use the code, and use it as an in-house social(ish) network, as stated above by yannh.
    The only disadvantage is that it's written in RoR, so you can't go to a webhosting company and host it there. That's bad for small organisations who don't know how or can't afford to have an own server. But who knows if there ever will come a diaspora-php-fork for those people.

    I believe Diaspora will survive (as software) because it will be community driven.
    • RE: Is Diaspora too late

      @schwarz_prod Diaspora is just software. I hope Kickstarter understands that.
      • Why should Kickstarter care?

        Kickstarter is like a blog, only instead of contributing your valuable opinion you put your money where your mouth is - and sometimes get something in return. It's like the Ebay of fundraising. Kickstarter itself doesn't have to care about any of the financed projects. Kickstarter keeps 5% of the funds transferred to pay for the overhead costs of running their site, which seems reasonable. Unfunded projects pay nothing. In this specific project Kickstarter gets about $10K of the raised $200K and once the funds are transferred has no further obligations.

        The people who funded the Diaspora project one Kickstarter may have differring hopes. All but 9 of those backers are in for $350 or less, and promised a T-shirt, a CD, and maybe some support from the project team of hosting of a Diaspora server in return. Nobody's getting less than they were promised.
  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

    Before they decided to name it as diaspora, they should have at least registered the domain Why is it ?
    • RE: Is Diaspora too late

      @mKind Records indicate it's held by a domain name hoarder out of Las Vegas called Marchex. Obtained some years ago.
  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

    For those who think Ruby wasn't the best choice, have a look at Friendika.
  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

    I really dont think it is. Facebook is on the decline in terms of privacy, and its perfectly timed for new social networking platforms. I dont trust Facebook with anything, really am very tired of Facebook, and its constant privacy lapses. Just waiting to give safer alternatives like Diaspora and MyCube a chance at making social networking secure and enjoyable again.
  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

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  • RE: Is Diaspora too late

    DFRN (Zot) and diaspora will hit Facebook and Google+ as heavy as Jabber and the ilk hit AIM and MSN... for better or worse.

    Besides, at this day and age using XML where YAML or JSON could be used shows a lot about one's design positions. These are IMO more important issues than Ruby vs Python vs Java vs PHP. Nobody thought PHP will scale either.