From Facebook to Diaspora

May 17, 2010

Diaspora is a distributed, open source alternative to Facebook that a few NYU graduates want to spend this summer building. They set out to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter, and on the strength of all the backlash against Facebook's privacy problems, the project has raised over $175,000 as of writing. Good for them. There are a LOT of existing projects doing work in this area (like OneSocialWeb, DiSo, Activity Streams), but I'm ok with a new effort working both together and in parallel with existing ones--it increases the chances that something will hit the the target. Interestingly, a Facebook employee recommended to the Diaspora developers that the app exploit Facebook as a platform for third-party apps to host social data but make it accessible on Facebook. Clever. This reminds me of Postel's law: "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." A lot of people have and will leave Facebook, but for now, the majority won't. Any social app that wants success should allow Facebook users to find and interact with its users seamlessly.

I would love to see someone run down the different projects going after this. Because this landscape is going to get crowded quickly.

Particularly OneSocialWeb, which is XMPP-based, vs. the traditional http-based projects out there.

Ben Catlin
May 17 10 at 10:20 am

I’m really hopeful that any of these devs manage to put something together that finds a sweet spot that can actually be adopted by 400 million people. Ditto on Twitter.

Here’s to federated online communication!

adampash [+5]
May 17 10 at 10:21 am

@Ben: It’s interesting to me that OneSocialWeb is using XMPP like Google Wave is. A few folks have said that the XMPP requirement is a bad thing because it’s too complex, that everything should just be HTTP. Yet, from what I understand, XMPP enables realtime interaction more easily.

@Adam: Here’s to federation indeed! Seriously, I cannot wait to see SOMEBODY make it with a federated app. Google’s trying with Wave, but it would be even better if it was a small startup like these students.

Gina Trapani [+195]
May 17 10 at 10:35 am

I wonder if any of these efforts are being backed by a company with deeper pockets. It would certainly be in Google / Yahoo / MSN, etc.’s benefits for a federated alternative to facebook to rise up. At the moment, facebook has a great deal of control over the current generation of user generated content. De-centralizing that control would be very beneficial to the search giants.

I’ve had enough and moved my stuff over to http://www.folkdirect.com – seems cool so far and the main thing is they have built it from the ground up with privacy at the top of the agenda. Good functionality.

EddieBoy
May 17 10 at 1:39 pm

Technically, Wong was an ex-facebook employee.

Next, I wouldn’t listen to what Wong had to say, having, you know, WORKED AT FACEBOOK and all – Facebook doesn’t care about a lot of things that Diaspora obviously cares about, and they will do what they do over the summer and there you go.

It’s not Clever to interface with Facebook except to have a “click this and yank all your crap off of Facebook and delete your Facebook” button. I’ll gladly accept that.

Jason Scott
May 18 10 at 11:33 pm


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