Diaspora : Diasparity : Diasparitousness

I’m not sure if I’m going to write this actually, because I’m always wrong about software. I always think things are going to be “next big things” and they never are.

So anyway, there’s been a load of fuss about a new startup (I hate startups) called Diaspora, who are a direct pot-shot at Facebook.


Now a load of people have all written about this and said “the interesting thing about it this/that” and “oooh… it’s cursed” and so on, they’re all wrong.

A couple of things about it…

a) it’s an attempt to be an open (in terms of licensing/software), but closed (in terms of privacy) alternative to Facebook

b) instead of it being VC funded, they went via Kickstarter and have raised about 20 times their target… which was 10k. They reckon they can do this in 3 months.

Maybe they can. A Facebook killer WILL have to be that simple. Facebook isn’t going to be sidelined by anything with more features. That said, 3 months work is something I could do in one month. Anything that simple will (inevitably) be based upon an idea that will be easily replicable – and maybe that’s good… because they’re open-sourcing it, and it’s something that needs to happen… it just makes me a bit suspish that it’s taken a bunch of kids to think of this mysterious idea rather than the collected neurochemical biomass of the internet.

I think this is interesting because:

a) it claims (somewhere, somewhere) to automatically detect if someone is on Diaspora – if so it will use that, otherwise it will default to FB.

This is really important – this gets around the critical-mass problem… and the critical-mass problem is a hard problem.

b) the amount and source of the money collected is… The Universal Mind funding it’s own evolution

The Internet was originally built by the military to use networks to create resilience.
The Internet was originally built by the military to use networks to create resilience.
The Internet was originally built by the military to use networks to create resilience.

Which it has done incredibly well, but weirdly/ironically, it’s also created among the biggest centralisations of power in human history. We all zone off into silos – Facebook, Youtube, Flickr etc etc. This is pretty dangerous – and it’s the opposite of what the Internet was originally set up to do.

So… there’s this need for federation. A while back Google launched Wave… which had the potential for you to run it on your own servers – so it could be like a cross between gmail and twitter and who knows what else… but without a single company being in control. Google aren’t about control, they’re about sampling the fire-hose. To push it into the realms of evil, Google aren’t about control, they’re about surveillance. I think this is kindof OK.

But Wave didn’t take off – or hasn’t yet. I thought it would I thought it would change everything. It didn’t.

Opera have had a shot at de-siloing our data… but everything needs to go through their servers. Control again.

Apple? Apple have become the White Knights of Evil. “Freedom from Porn?” Please.

So anyway – what Diaspora is, is a “tick-all-the-boxes” attempt at an alternative to Facebook. I’d like to see it work – although I’d prefer it was run by Scandinavians with massive beards etc than a load of dorky American college kids – people like this guy

rather than these:

I mean I guess those guys are ok – in a funny sort of way they’re “my people” – but they look like a fucking boy-band.

They’re wrong about control as well – this idea that “once you give it to facebook, you’ve lost control… but if you host it yourself, you retain it”. Not true. Once you publish, you’ve lost it. Stop even trying.

This is worth doing though – if it is what I think it is. The one misgiving I have is whether or not you host the only copy of your information. This is bad… irresiliant. Information needs to be “I’m Spartacused”. Otherwise you’re just swapping one big monolyth with your own little personal one.