Diaspora which has been rumored to be on the way for several months is finally really on the way – and they still have Facebook in their sights. After raising somewhere in the area of $200,000 from online contributions to make Diaspora a reality, a launch date of September 15, 2010 has been set. According to their company blog, the launch date is hard, and will deliver the things that Facebook does not – mainly control of your individual user data. Actually Diaspora’s blog states that they will provide a “privacy-aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, pen source social network.”
Diaspora may have never been a reality had it not been for a string of events that seemed to fall into place as if some divine inspiration were guiding it. During a lecture delivered by Richard Stallman in which he stated that mark Zuckerberg who founded Facebook had done more harm to the world than anyone else his age ever had, Facebook was mired in yet another privacy issue. Privacy issues have always been a problem with Facebook, and although they have made upgrades to get better, it is still an issue.
It was at this speech while Facebook was doing their usual privacy issue sidestep that four NYU students got the idea that they could do better. The problem was finding the money to actually do it. As the Facebook scandals continued over the following months and word of the new but slowly growing Diaspora project got out, donations began pouring in through Kickstarter, which is a funding site, clearly showing people wanted a new option that put privacy first.
What most people like about the concept of Diaspora is that it is open source which means anyone can view the code and even suggest modifications to enhance the code. What sets Diaspora apart from other social networking sites is the development of intuitive data sharing. For example, when you make someone a friend on Facebook, there are limited options for deciding who sees what. Your boss is as likely to see what is on your page as your old high school or college buddies. Intuitive data sharing is different.
Intuitive data sharing provides a means to make a person a friend, but still restrict what they see. If you do not want your boss alone to see something in particular for example, that will be possible. In theory, as the application develops it is possible there will be specific groups or individuals pre-set to decide who sees what quickly and easily so the user experience is as uninterrupted as possible.
While Diaspora has not announced what features will and will not be available upon release on September 15, 2010, they have stated that for the debut they have gone after what they have identified as high value features, and will continue to work on the program after release to integrate more features. Whether Diaspora will take down Facebook is unknown, and likely a longshot, but there is the possibility that they can establish a strong user base and be of great value to those who prize privacy over flash.