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Facebook Competitor Diaspora Revealed 306

jamie writes "A post has just gone up on Diaspora's blog revealing what the project actually looks like for the first time. While it's not yet ready to be released to the public, the open-source social networking project is giving the world a glimpse of what it looks like today and also releasing the project code, as promised. At first glance, this preview version of Diaspora looks sparse, but clean. Oddly enough, with its big pictures and stream, it doesn't look unlike Apple's new Ping music social network mixed with yes, Facebook."
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Facebook Competitor Diaspora Revealed

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  • I dunno, man... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @08:58AM (#33598470) Homepage

    Facebook has things pretty much on lockdown, as far as "full feature" social networking is concerned (not to mention the fact that, if wanting to be visible on a social network, most people already have a Facebook account.) I realize that at one time, MySpace had things all sewn up as well, but still...you know what I'm getting at. Anyway, like so many other things, hopefully Diaspora will bring serious competition, and help dictate the way some things are done.

    If nothing else, it could at least become a social network for FOSS folks, which would be pretty cool.

    • Re:I dunno, man... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:16AM (#33598618)

      A social network that limits it's audience to a specific group of people isn't very 'social'. It would fail if it was only for those interested in FOSS, at least on the scale of MySpace and Facebook and I don't think that's what the designers intended. From what I recall, they just want an open network that is a little more concerned with privacy than the existing giants. Diaspora is a perfect fit for that goal.

      As to being the current 'number 1', I don't think that is even a goal as of yet, but rather just getting it off the ground and out there. If it's good and follows through on it's privacy and transparency goals, it will get there on it's own as there are a large segment of users on Facebook who are very unhappy with the way their data is being handled.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by novium ( 1680776 )
        Facebook once had an extremely limited audience- college students. And only students of those universities that Facebook had expanded to. That did not stop it from taking off like crazy. I actually kind of miss those days. I'd be more than happy to leave facebook to my parents, their friends, my young cousins, and every random person I knew in middle and high school.
    • Re:I dunno, man... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:19AM (#33598642)

      I realize that at one time, MySpace had things all sewn up as well

      Only amongst a small demographic (which many Slashdotters may be part of, hence it seems to you like everyone was on it). My mother never had a MySpace account, but she is on Facebook, and so are many of her friends, their children and their grandchildren, and maybe even some of their parents.

      • by eln ( 21727 )
        MySpace was mostly popular among young people, particularly teenagers. Unfortunately for them, teenagers are notoriously fickle and amenable to change. Facebook serves a far wider demographic, many of whom are highly resistant to change. I don't think displacing Facebook is necessarily impossible, but it will be far more difficult than displacing MySpace was, and I don't see how the Diaspora model in particular could pull it off. I guess we'll see, though.
    • Where the usefulness of a service increases with the number of people using it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect [wikipedia.org]

      i.e. everyone but Facebook, are money down the drain. They would have to fuck up monumentally to break the effect.


      • by The Clockwork Troll ( 655321 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @10:12AM (#33599216) Journal
        Traditionally [wikipedia.org] it's said that the value of a network increases as the square of the number of nodes, however this considers only value generated by potential pairwise connections.

        If a social network were geared toward linking groups of three for some maximum objective (business partnerships, sex, friendship, counseling, etc.) then by the same reasoning its value should vary as the cube of the number of nodes, and then this thricebook would kill facebook.
    • Just do what pidgin did and let people connect to all their social networks from the social network they control.

    • Re:I dunno, man... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:48AM (#33598958) Homepage

      Diaspora looks like it's trying to be the next round in the Social Networking Site Cycle, which goes like this:
      1. A social networking site starts up, allowing friends to stay in touch and contact one another, with good privacy rules to prevent bad guys from seeing that info, with maybe a few ads to pay for things but no other payments involved.
      2. The social networking site (which is good at what it does) is successful in attracting new members. Network effects make the member base swell massively, while any competitors become passe.
      3. The founders of the site want to profit from their hard work, so they go public or get VC funding.
      4. The investors attempt to "monetize" the network via advertising, bloatware that people can pay to add on, reducing privacy rules, and so forth.
      5. The social network becomes a slow bloated totally non-private piece of crap.
      6. A couple of developers think "Hey, the dominant social network is a bloated totally non-private piece of crap. We should create something that does this better." And the cycle begins again.

      This has happened at least once already with MySpace, and it's fair to say that Facebook is sitting somewhere around step 5.

    • Google might pick it up. Android shows Google's willingness to adopt openness as a "scorched earth" policy against competitors who're doing end runs around Google's core business. All the other social networking sites like hi5 might adopt it for strength in numbers vs. facebook. You could even imagine IM programs like skype jumping on the social networking bandwagon through variation on Disapora's protocols.

      Also, friends-to-friend file sharing is the untapped killer app for social networking, as easy inv

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:01AM (#33598502)

    Oh, it's written in ruby? Never mind. /starts language war

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:06AM (#33598540) Homepage Journal
    If this really wants to be a "competitor" to facebook they are going to need a lot more than just software. Of course they need users, but they also need a central organization and a LOT of servers. Facebook is more than just a software interface, they have a massive # of globally distributed data centers that cost a ton of money. I doubt any one organization is going to put the same amount of resources behind this project. More than likely, if this amounts to anything it won't be a facebook competitor but instead a platform for much smaller communities to use. TFA even mentions this(but its not in the summary. Of course being open source it is theoretically possible then to "transfer" your profile among communities, but that remains to be seen.
    • by The Solitaire ( 1119147 ) <silk@heavengames . c om> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:13AM (#33598586) Homepage
      It's opensource, and (AFAIK) distributed, so no, they really don't.
    • by Rhaban ( 987410 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:17AM (#33598622)

      The goal is to have a facebook equivalent without a central organization: they do not need a ton of servers because they don't want to host the users data.

      They want each and every user to be responsible for where he wants to host his own data, be it on a home server, on a rented remote server, or via a specialized service provider.

      They want social web to be a bit like e-mail, where no single entity owns the whole system.

      • by takowl ( 905807 )
        But to get people using it, there has to be an easy way to get an account on a public server for free. Because ordinary users don't want to rent their own server. Think GMail for e-mail, or Wordpress.com for wordpress blogs.
      • Wow, this is cool! Whether they succeed or not, I kind of hope this is the way social networking will be in the future.
      • Oh ugh, that sounds horrible.

        So what happens when some chunk of users lose access or data because of a third party screwup? Is that possible in this system? It sounds like it. What happens when the first 'free' service that gets a fair amount of users has a public data leak?

        • by Rhaban ( 987410 )

          Oh ugh, that sounds horrible.

          So what happens when some chunk of users lose access or data because of a third party screwup? Is that possible in this system? It sounds like it. What happens when the first 'free' service that gets a fair amount of users has a public data leak?

          What happens when facebook does?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            What happens when facebook does?

            People understand that. Damnit, facebook is down. But when you split the community, people will say, "Hey, is diaspora down?" non-techie: "Dunno what's wrong, it works for me, maybe your computer is busted."

            Service is down people understand.

            Some part of the service that isn't actually connected to the service is down... People won't understand that.

            It's like trying to get your computer tweaked for gaming. People pop in the DVD and expect it to install and run. When a cry

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Of course they need users, but they also need a central organization and a LOT of servers.

      Undoubtedley the will, but the system is designed to be distributed. Anyone can add a machine as a server. If enough people do it they might get somewhere - it worked for bittorrent.

    • If this really wants to be a "competitor" to AOL messaging they are going to need a lot more than just software. Of course they need users, but they also need a central organization and a LOT of servers. AOL is more than just a software interface, they have a massive # of globally distributed data centers that cost a ton of money. I doubt any one organization is going to put the same amount of resources behind this project. More than likely, if this amounts to anything it won't be a AOL competitor but i

    • You don't have a clue what you're talking about. The whole point is that I can host my very own Diaspora node and anybody on any other Diaspora node can link to me.

      Your statement is like saying "If Apache really wants to be a competitor to Geocities they need to have massive numbers of servers like Yahoo does!".

      DIaspora does not need centrally administered computing resources to work. Sure, if you are hosting the Diaspora node of a celebrity you might need a server farm, but most people could host their D

  • by koterica ( 981373 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:07AM (#33598550) Journal
    I don't understand how a piece of unreleased software can be considered a competitor to a service that (claims) to have 500 million active users.
  • by faulteh ( 1869228 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:12AM (#33598572) Homepage

    I gave the developer preview code a run today, and all my hopes as to what Diaspora could be died. It took too long to produce so little that everyone's outrage at facebook's privacy has been compartmentalized into a hollywood movie on the subject, and thus rendered irrelevant.

    To be a seed you are going to need a hosting provider that supports ruby on rails with a freakishly huge list of gem dependencies, that is also running the thin webserver - that's right it doesn't work on apache (parts of it worked, but most of the ajax stuff didn't because it requires the eventmachine interface). In fact, installing all the dependencies on an ubuntu server running a LAMP stack still required an extra 350+Mb of extra packages as all the ruby and mongodb dependencies, for a so far tiny web application. Talk about bloatware!

    So although it may look good, it's been put together by crApple fanboys, aka morons. WTF were they smoking at burning man to make them think this was worth it? Gimme some of that sh*t!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by alen ( 225700 )

      i still have hope that someone will have an all text version

    • by jlusk4 ( 2831 )

      Yeah. I read their "Questions from Luis Villa" (wth? Can't paste into this edit window w/Chrome?) blog post at the beginning of the summer and I didn't think it was going to work out so well. Undergrad summer enthusiasm, rejection/unawareness of earlier efforts.

      And here we are. I wonder if they'll be able to collect their KickStarter money (wotta scam that turned out to be) because they met their "promise" (whatever we release will be open-source, yay (note the absence of a specific feature list in the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So everyone in the world doesn't have a compatible server to run a seed on... The idea is that the geek in each group will.

      You clearly had one that you could run it on, I have one that I can run it on (and thus my friends and their friends can readily use my seed, which can connect to your seed, etc. etc.)

      I don't disagree that not running on apache is a load of bollocks but I also think you're blowing the requirements way out of proportion. 350Mb of packages to run it? that's nothing compared to the gigs up

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Americano ( 920576 )

        So Diaspora will become the new MS Windows, and Facebook will become the new Linux. Sound odd?

        Consider the number of comments posted here of the form: "I got SO fucking sick of answering Windows questions for my parents and friends that I finally convinced them to use Linux. And they love it."

        Then consider whether you really want to be "the social network support guy" for a hundred of your family & closest friends.

        And, incidentally, I have to chuckle like Beavis on principle at the statement "my frie

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by De Lemming ( 227104 )

      Ok, time to return to Appleseed [appleseedproject.org], the distributed social networking software which already is in development for several years now, already has working beta-servers, and is probably much closer to a final release than Diaspora.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      I thought the idea would be that you would host it on your own machine when it is up and that the rest of the time your friends (or random people) would serve as mirrors ?
  • Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

    by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:13AM (#33598580)
    Now I can network with all 3 people that care about both FOSS principles and social networking!
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:21AM (#33598660) Journal

    I don't care at all about the source code being released. Sure, they've released some Ruby code, which you can run, but that's not the important bit. We don't all use SMTP because Sendmail is open source (although that did help adoption), we use it because the protocols are well documented and different implementations can all interoperate. Release the protocol specs as RFCs, merge in feedback, and encourage independent implementations. Until there are two independent implementations, the protocol isn't worth anything.

  • We should all help participate and support any open source initiative. I can't wait to see it working. The name is inspiring as an image of a great number of people migrating over in rebellion - but doesn't mean much alone, defined apart from FB, stand on its own merit, which would be better. So relies on FB popularity for meaning. Plus it sounds vaguely religious or biblical. RebelBook, PiratesBook, CorsarBook, PeaceWar perhaps.
  • Last I checked, the hosting was either going to be you download and run it on your own server, or you pay them X dollars for them to host it for you. Is that still going to be the case? If so, this thing is dead in the water because Aunt Jane has no idea what a web server is, and she's not going to buy hosting from Diaspora when Facebook is free.

    • Ad supported hosting is used for thousands of services already... Why couldn't a diaspora service provider do that?

      There are lots of reasons why this may fail, but you didn't provide one, I think. As I see it, the diaspora service providers should get their profit much like Facebook does, with the exception that people can change providers and pick the one that has the features they want (be it better privacy or a wide selection of funny cat pictures).

      I guess if this actually gets off the ground there would

  • I just liked how it described facebook as an intranet. Further the article posits that facebook will follow the path of AOL. I am not agreeing or disagreeing, just sharing a link.

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/06/avoiding-walled-gardens-on-the-internet.html [codinghorror.com]

  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:42AM (#33598870)
    I have always wondered why we needed Diaspora when there are already so many projects [gitorious.org]. Why not work on one of the existing ones.
  • i love the alt text on the image - "aaa"
  • The key to social network interoperability is the 'OStatus' suite of protocols and formats. Diaspora will be implementing this, but what really exited me [google.com] the other day was the first open source implementations of OStatus communication between Status.net (wot powers identi.ca, etc) and itself (screencast is available via the link above) based on the Federated Social Web's SWAT0 test, and then shortly afterwards other systems (MiniMe). Work is under way to implement this in other systems such as ELGG, Drupal,

  • Well those are current and trendy. But is it the best? I suppose php and mysql is too boring.

  • by knarf ( 34928 ) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @10:30AM (#33599434) Homepage

    And here I was thinking that the likes of Diaspora could be nicely installed on my router [dd-wrt.com]. With a load of luck and a pitchfork I might be able to get it on there because this router has more memory than my previous laptop but you might as well forget about getting this incarnation of Diaspora running on a WRT54GL. If lightning had not struck last month I'd still be running one of those with no plans to replace it until, well, lightning would strike.

    I will try to keep an eye on what they are doing but I'm really more interested in the protocols and APIs they use and develop. One it all settles down I'd create something which interacts with their implementation without all the buzz they deem necessary in some nice, compact and high performance language. It might even fit on a WRT54GL then which would give it an instant base of who knows how many nodes...

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll