Diaspora, the Open Social Network, Gets Handed Over to the Community
While it first began to generate buzz back in 2010, Diaspora--an open attempt to create a social network, featuring an open development model--seemed to have everything going for it. Social networking was hot, and many users complained about the walled gardens that Facebook and other social media environments put them behind. Diaspora has not found the kind of traction that many other social networks have, though. And now, the project's founders have announced that Diaspora will become an entirely community-driven project.
Diaspora was initially begun by four students at NYU. (One of the founders, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, tragically committed suicide last year.) It has attracted many donations, helping to keep the project going.
In a new blog post, Diaspora's founders discuss handing Diaspora over to the community:
"As a Free Software social project, we have an obligation to take this project further, for the good of the community that revolves around it. Putting the decisions for the project’s future in the hands of the community is one of the highest benefits of any FOSS project, and we’d like to bring this benefit to our users and developers. We still will remain as an important part this community as the founders, but we want to make sure we are including all of the people who care about Diaspora and want to see it succeed well into the future.
If you look around, you’ll see that we’ve made an effort to open up to the community more to help better serve it. We’ve opened up our Pivotal Tracker for community developers help join in (You can sign up here), we’ve launched a tool that deploys one-click installations to the Heroku app hosting service, and we’ve updated joindiaspora.com to be more community-centric, showcasing other pods a user can join."
As we've noted before, both Facebook and Twitter suffer from the fundamental problem that they are closed systems. They harken back to the early days of email, when you had to be on, say, MCI Mail, or CompuServe, to send another computer user a message.
It would be good to see a community-driven Diaspora thrive. Perhaps there is still room for that to happen.