Diaspora* Social Network Alpha Version is going mainstream… slowly. A first review.

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I was mildly amused to receive the Alpha Invitation to join Diaspora.

Diaspora Social Network

Just after having written about social media fatigue and the continuing appearance of new choices in social media, here comes yet another choice.  A long time in the making, Diaspora* (www.joindiaspora.com) has the makings of a different offer.  The brainchild of 4 NYU maths students (Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy), Diaspora* is being touted as the “solution” for those who are concerned about the privacy issues on Google or the questionable and ever-changing ethics of Facebook.

As opposed to the wall gardens of Apple itunes, Myspace, Facebook and Google+, the concept behind Diaspora* (D*) is to be totally open to all, be it all networks, all people, all programs, all games.  Your content is, however, to be your own.  You own it and you control it — even if it may be in the cloud.

Diaspora Social Network home page

After the initial Alpha rollout (starting last autumn), a year later Diaspora+ is now going mainstream.  My year old request for a profile landed in my inbox yesterday.  I have signed up and below are my initial feelings about the site.

  • In theory, I like the positioning of Diaspora as a way to control and own your content.  It certainly meets the concern of many people I know.  However, it is my belief that it has come a little late to the party.  If someone is anti-Facebook, I don’t believe there is enough goodwill in the social networking environment to coax that person into a new initiative out of New York.
  • If there has been a year of work on taking out the early nicks and bugs, the Diaspora product is at best simple, and at worst, unsexy.
  • There are very few people in my known network who are already on.  This leads me to two possible reasons: I don’t have enough “cool” underground friends or Diaspora’s rollout is slow as molasses, without any fanfare.  As a consequence, I am not likely to spend a lot of time here… not until more of the mainstream have signed on.
  • Diaspora has a mobile web interface which is just fine.

Overall, I plan to watch this one from afar.   I see two main challenges for Diaspora*: gaining critical mass (with a double entendre on critical); and the non vetting of games and incoming programs (quality, viruses, etc.).

I’d love to hear your point of view.  Are you open to Diaspora*?  How good an idea is it, really?

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