Question, do you have space in your life for another Social Network?
It seems the guys over at Diaspora* (the * is part of the brand!) think we do. In September 2010 they came to the market with an idea to hopefully lure you away from Facebook; the guys were fed up with the privacy issues over at Facebook Towers and set out to design a whole new system.
At the time of the announcement they were seeking funding to develop the system. They were able to raise an amazing $200,000 in under a month via crowd-sourced funding. They initially promised an Alpha release in October 2010
however that clearly slipped and one year later they are ready to launch the Alpha product for bleeding-edge testers! (UPDATE: See the comment below from Yosem offering a better explanation)
The concept of Diaspora* is perhaps a little difficult for the average Joe to understand, but in simple terms it is a distributed system. Anyone can run a Diaspora* pod (their name for a server). The pods connects up to form the Diaspora* Ecosystem. All pods communicate with each other, sharing basic data but crucially your personal data is held on your own pod (or whatever pod you are registered with).
In theory this means a club, organisation, or group of friends could run a pod of their own. Because all the pods communicate you can still share with any other user on the Ecosystem. You don’t need to be running a pod to participate, you can simply join someone else’s pod, or the mother ship (my description, not theirs)!
It is an interesting idea but it still comes down to who you trust. No doubt hosting companies will spring up offering to run Pods. How confident are we that they will manage our privacy concerns?
With Google+ pushing hard into the market, Facebook with a massive user base, and Twitter steaming ahead, one does wonder if Diaspora* has missed the boat, so to speak!
If you are interested in testing the system you can submit your email address over at joindiaspora.com and wait.
UPDATE — I have Diaspora invites. If anyone is interested use the Contact Me in the navigation section at the top right of the blog (please ensure a valid email address for the invite).