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Is Diaspora the Future of Free Software Funding? 146

Glyn Moody writes "Diaspora, the free software project to create a distributed version of Facebook, has been much in the news recently — not least because it has raised $170,000 in just a few weeks. But what's also interesting is the way they've raised that money: through a series of graded rewards for pledges of financial support. This is an approach adopted by some forward-thinking musicians: for example, Jill Sobule funded her last album in the same way, garnering $75,000 in pledges from fans. Is this a model that could be applied to other free software projects, or is it just a one-off?"
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Is Diaspora the Future of Free Software Funding?

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  • Pledges eh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bobnova ( 1435535 )
    Every time they say pledges of financial support, i wonder how many people actually follow through and pay.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You need to have a look at kickstart (the pledge funding/rewards system) then.
      You actually have to put the funds on hold to make an actual pledge.

      If the thing goes ahead, your funds get taken and delivered to the group you're supporting.

      • by xtracto ( 837672 )

        I have thought of a system like this before, although with a commercial POV.

        The idea of the web site my I built (not public) is to allow "intellectual property" creators to offer their work for a specific amount of money and then, when such amount is raised (I considered of the "chip-in" service) the author publishes his work, gets paid said amount and anyone can get the work for free.

        In this way, I.P. creators can work on whatever they want and charge an amount of money that they think is equivalent to th

        • You could just use Kickstart like that...
        • Good idea, the devil is in the details. First of all some things are too costly to finance this way (think AutoCAD) secondly the really good content creators can monetize their stuff over and over so they're not interested in being paid only once.

    • In this case, the pledges were made through kickstarter. As I understand it, they reserve an amount on your card in the same way hotels do; it's not withdrawn, but it's locked until the drive succeeds - or until it fails, in which case the reservations are deleted.

      So yes, Diaspora already have that money.

  • "Prior Art" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:59AM (#32237320)

    How is this different from the model used for NPR pledge drives? Its just another thing you can get for free, but that if you feel has value to you, you can/should help fund so it doesn't go away... and you get prizes at various levels of contribution. It's been working since the 70s for NPR, it should work here, too, assuming the people involved in using the software aren't the same people who don't contribute to their local NPR/PBS station.

    • Re:"Prior Art" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:08AM (#32237444) Journal

      How is this different from the model used for NPR pledge drives?

      The key difference seems to be that you are paying for something specific to this project. In NPR, you're paying for some future costs of running it but also by and large shows that are already filmed and done. You're helping keep the access up and running. In Diaspora and Sobule's cases, you're paying for the coming work. You're really funding the creation of this project. Both are pledges for the future but in this case you are instrumental in creation, not accessing what's already created. I suppose locally produced shows may enjoy your money but you're not attached solely to that project when you contribute. And you're often rewarded with non-personal items. A duffel bag? A coffee mug? An old DVD of WWII? Old crap they have laying around? Red Green signatures? (Note: I would actually enjoy the Red Green signature)

      Diaspora has to ship 4,241 CDs, 3,267 bunches of "cool disaspora stickers", 2,488 t-shirts and then all the hosting and phone support in the remaining groups which isn't anything to sneeze at either. It's all personalized to the Diaspora project and you're a part of that project now.

      That's my interpretation anyway.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What exactly is the big difference between a Diaspora t-shirt and an All Things Considered coffee mug? Except, of course, for the carrying capacity, etc. I'm just pointing out that most of the gifts I heard of in the last NPR pledge drive are just as personalized as the Diaspora items.

        Also, I think of then NPR pledge drive as something for the future, but with more of a confirmed history. I recall one show going off the air during the recession; perhaps there were more. People who pledged ahead of time

    • I personally have prior art. I came up with something like Diasproa at least five years ago. Except that I had a concept where those ideas were only a small part of a bigger concept encompassing everything from ebay over file-sharing, instant messaging, chat, forums, MMO base software, browsers, online communities, etc, etc, etc. Right now I have a design for a whole OS based on the concepts in my drawer. Replacing all things communication that exist. (And in case of the OS also all things storage.) No exc

  • This project (and others like it*) has to succeed, we need something that makes the net lean toward P2P as an organisational structure.

    Without these types of fights the net is in the long term going to suffer a lot from corporate control and stifle people's ability to start new ventures.

    * http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Group:GNU_Social/Project_Comparison [fsf.org]

    • Thats why i am currently building a P2P web forum software. Like something like ZetaBoards, but you can have it host anywere. Convient, i know.
  • Got code? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:07AM (#32237414)

    I'll get excited about Diaspora when they actually start putting out code...

    • YES! why is this marked troll? I see no code on their github pages and i must ASSUME that its going to be run on ruby on rails because of all the HTML textile stuff. Thats a vague assumption also.
    • by 228e2 ( 934443 )
      If you pledge $1000 or more you can get access to the code while its in development all summer http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/196017994/diaspora-the-personally-controlled-do-it-all-distr?pos=4&ref=spotlight/ [kickstarter.com]
      • So you can pay extra to get access to the source of an open-source software project?? Wha??

        • by Myopic ( 18616 )

          It's not clear to me whether you are intentionally misrepresenting the statement because you are a wag, or whether it is because you don't understand the distinction between getting the source code, and getting access to nightly builds. Given the options, I choose to believe you are a wag -- so, good joke there, wag.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xtracto ( 837672 )

      It will be fun to see after the guys get their "first version" running and see all the "real world" issues they will get. IIRC Friendster got canned due to scalability issues.

      IMHO the Diaspora guys have a "good idea", but it is still to be implemented. However I have seen a *lot* of people with lots of good ideas for software, unfortunately the implementation is what counts.

      Best of luck to them anyhow.

    • by neoform ( 551705 )

      I smell vaporware.

      Not only that, but these guys are making some nice coin by making promises to deliver the next facebook.. which is very unlikely to materialize.

  • Don't forget Blender (Score:4, Informative)

    by MikeV ( 7307 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:07AM (#32237432)

    IIRC, it's source code was purchased from the license holders and made open-source thanks to this same sort of thing.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:10AM (#32237466)
    In general people only are interested in joining the most popular network sites where their friends are also joining. So this means there can only be one or two leaders and a tremendous amount of inertia to change. Giants like MicroSoft and Google tried and failed several times. So reading articles like these are much like reading the weekly "next dethroning of Moore's law" articles: usually the first and last and last time they'll make the news.
    • Exactly. Facebook has worked so well in part because it forces people to be less anonymous. You are prompted to use your real name and put in factual data about yourself, and when you becomes friends with other people it connects you via all of their other tools. So yes, you could become friends with people from high school you don't know, but your pictures will be with your actual friends, which really is showing that, in private, you hang out with certain people.

      I don't see how a factual representat
      • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

        I don't see how a factual representation of the self is necessarily bad, though. Yes yes, there's the whole "if you're not breaking the law, why are you afraid of the law" argument, but Facebook does let you lock down your profile pretty well this week.

        There, fixed that for you.

      • But the idea of " social network" and privacy/anonymity seems kind of at odds, doesn't it?

        No, not at all. I want to socialize with my friends and acquaintances and possibly their friends as well, not Mark Zuckerberg. What is so strange about that?

      • Facebook does let you lock down your profile pretty well nowadays.

        One thing to note is that regardless of however hidden your information is from random visitors to the website...

        Your information is still laid entirely bare to a for-profit organization with a history of privacy abuses run by a right-winger with ties to government intelligence. It's called Facebook.

    • by nloop ( 665733 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:06PM (#32238568)
      kind of like this [slashdot.org] story about the 800 lbs gorilla of myspace and a smaller wannabee... facebook. Friendster begat MySpace begat Facebook begat someone new. Sure, I agree it won't be Diaspora because they have a terrible name and haven't even started writing code yet, but there is no such thing as too big to fail on the interwebs.

      People never thought Yahoo could be displaced in the search engine market in the late 90s either.
      • Jewish diaspora (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        Sure, I agree it won't be Diaspora because they have a terrible name

        It might become popular with Jews out of Israel [wikipedia.org].

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Glad someone brought this up already. Yes, diaspora primarily refers to the Jewish dispersal across the globe as a result of the Roman occupation and destruction of the Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel. Diaspora literally means dispersion, and while it can refer to dispersals of other groups of people, the primary denotation of the term refers to the exile of the Jewish people. If others want to contest that, check out the definitions on m-w.com.

          Why the project creators used this term for distribut
          • by jpop32 ( 596022 )

            Yes, diaspora primarily refers to the Jewish dispersal across the globe as a result of the Roman occupation and destruction of the Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel.

            Well, maybe in your culture. In mine (I'm from Croatia) it refers generally to people living outside of their homeland, not any particular nationality. We had large emigration in first half of the last century, and those who left the country are usually refered to as 'diaspora'.

            But, yeah, it's probably not the best choice for a name. Although I can understand the motivation, with their network being made of dispersed nodes they call 'seeds'.

    • 1. It's perfect target market.
      2. Word spreads like wildfire.
      3. Every time £uckerberg screws us over, someone will tell them how great Diaspora is.

    • Completely off topic here.

      No accusation intended, I'm just curious how it is that a user with an ID as low as yours spells Microsoft with a capital S. As far as I am aware, the company has always used all-upper or sentence case, but never camel case.

  • Other Projects (Score:5, Informative)

    by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:11AM (#32237472)

    I realize that this article isn't really about diaspora itself, but I feel it's an obligation to point out that there are other, more promising and further along (nearly finished), projects out there, such as Appleseed [sourceforge.net], that have the same goal, and aren't being run by people with almost no experience.

    • Re:Other Projects (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:58AM (#32238384) Homepage
      To be fair, the Diaspora guys are now fully experienced and demonstrably successful at their core competency: marketing vapourware.
      • > To be fair, the Diaspora guys are now fully experienced and demonstrably successful at their core competency: marketing vapourware.

        Given that their future success will be determined more by marketing than programming, I'm pretty OK with that. This is business model problem, not a technical one. No one has a problem with Facebook's engineers.

    • I don't know that I would advocate Appleseed either. They've been at a standstill for 2 years, and that's according to their own website timeline. If you go back further in their timeline, their progress has been quite slow.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's one of the things that turned me off initially as well, but the developer now seems to be motivated to get it finished. He's trying to get funds together (to live on, I assume) so that he can work on it full time. It's actually very far along, and all that's left is (a lot of) polishing.

      • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:47PM (#32241794) Homepage

        It was actually more like one year, although I was silently committing to the svn without doing much promotion for the year before that. We just couldn't get momentum going, so at some point, jobs and personal lives took over.

        This time around, it's different, though. I have to thank the Diaspora* folks, even if they don't end up coding anything, they've really gotten people to start thinking about open source, distributed social networking. And that's a positive for everyone.

        We're trying to raise money the same way Diaspora* did, using a similar website. I don't expect to get as much as they did, but I think it's definitely possible to meet the goal.

        http://indiegogo.com/The-Appleseed-Project [indiegogo.com]

        • by IANAAC ( 692242 )
          This is not to knock you or your efforts. Really. But looking a bit through your website, I have a question...

          In your CV you state that you are the sole developer for the Appleseed project. Yet elsewhere on your site you state that you are a group of developers. Which one is it?

          That is an obvious question, but there are others (timeline-related).

          It would be prudent to "get your ducks in a row", so to speak, when asking for money, otherwise you run the risk of no being taken seriously. At least that

          • by dominion ( 3153 )

            "In your CV you state that you are the sole developer for the Appleseed project. Yet elsewhere on your site you state that you are a group of developers. Which one is it?"

            I'm the lead programmer, we have people contributing in various ways, but anything that says I'm the sole contributor is definitely outdated, and will be updated soon.

  • For small projects (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:11AM (#32237480) Homepage Journal
    I think for small projects with a existing fan/userbase this works well, and is really not new. I recall 20 years ago a local brother/sister rock duo sold t-shirts to raise money to make CDs. Chris Chandler, a folk singer, offered producer credit on his latest album in exchange for a smallish donation. I think the general populous is often willing to give money for small projects.

    The problem comes in when the project get very successful and starts needed professional management. Now people are not paying to directly create product, but for support and management services. I may be willing to donate $20 so that some coder buy food while writing a device driver, or some artist can rent studio space to record and album, but I am willing to donate that money for an administrative assistant? I don't know.

  • http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-open-alternative/ [wired.com]

    That's the equivalent of a significant angel round of funding in the internet startup world, and their fundraising on the Kickstarter crowdsourced funding site has another 19 days to go.
    It's also an impressive for a project proposal from four students who say they aren't going to start coding until they graduate from college this summer. And a testament to how strongly that a growing number of people want an alternative to a centralized and dominant social networking site.

    they haven't started programming it!

    "hey, i got a cool idea, wanna give me $115K?

    holy the awesome power of media coverage batman

    • by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:15AM (#32237548)

      Indeed. I don't understand why people keep giving them money. Give your money to a project that has actually been started (and actually close to being finished), like appleseed - http://appleseed.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] .

      • by div_2n ( 525075 )

        I donated because I like the idea, I like their attitude about it and I had never heard of the alternatives before I heard about them.

        Maybe they were just in the right place at the right time, but it is what it is. And no, I am not going to donate to the alternative you mentioned. A one man operation doesn't interest me as much as a team of four.

        • by dominion ( 3153 )

          I'm currently the only programmer, but I'm definitely not the only collaborator. I've been working with at least two other people throughout this project, and lately, we've gotten interest from designers (which is good, the default theme needs some serious work!) We have a few people interested in working on translations into German, Spanish, and Turkish, to name a few. And we have always had a lot of interest and feedback from people running their own appleseed nodes.

          Plus, the source has been open and av

      • I looked at what's there already, and I'm not terribly impressed. For example, and this is terribly superficial, but your tarball expands into the directory you untar it in, not into it's own subdirectory like every other project that uses a tarball.

        I like a lot of the writing about how a distributed social networking thing should be constructed and the analysis of potential problems and things. I don't see a lot of acknowledgement of the things in the area that have already been done. No mention of Open

        • by dominion ( 3153 )

          As the poster above stated, I am aware of that issue. Also, the latest tarball is VERY out-of-date. For the past couple years, I've been committing to svn (which is open to the public for checkouts at svn.appleseedproject.org) instead of creating distribution packages.

          I'm working on getting an up-to-date tarball package out within the next few days (tonight if I have the time). In the meantime, if you'd like to try it out, you can send an email to invite@appleseedproject.org to get an invite code, so you

    • I will write Facebook's replacement. Really. I mean it. I will. Please send me money.
    • by MikeyO ( 99577 )

      they haven't started programming it!

      From their Project page [joindiaspora.com]:

      We already have a rudimentary prototype of Diaspora running on our machines.

      • yup.. they all have Facebook accounts ...;-p
      • Well, I certainly think that they will have to follow through now that media coverage has brought them hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it's not going to be vaporware. On the other hand, I've met a couple people who swear they have had a Duke Nukem Forever prototype that was running on their machine for months.

        What I don't understand is why everyone was so encouraged to contribute to this project despite the complete lack of experience of its creators and complete lack of a substantive evidence that the

        • I've met a couple people who swear they have had a Duke Nukem Forever prototype that was running on their machine for months.

          So? They exist, you know. They just never reached the stage where the company could release them without embarrassment, because technology kept outrunning them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
        And dude, they'll totally get around to open sourcing that real soon now, 'cause, man, they're all about the open source and shit, so just get all out of their faces and chill, bro.
    • Yup, first thing I thought of when I read about this was: which one of these guys has an friend or relative who's an editor? It's not what you know, it's where you can market yourself that counts.

      I can't wait until one of them swipes all the money and runs, and the others turn into bitter hollow shells, with nothing better to do than report the winner to the FBI.

    • Mod parent up. When I originally read the article about Diaspora in the NYT, all I could think was "hey, cool idea, but this is BEYOND vaporware." I worry that with all the press it's getting, if it comes out and totally sucks (which is more likely than not), it will just strengthen Facebook's position.

      • They could, after some months, come back and publicly say "Even with all your contributions, we couldn't write something that could in good conscience be released to the public" and walk away with the money.

        They may still be forced to show what code they could produce (and it could very well be a small amount), but that wouldn't stop them from just walking away.

        Other than "hey, once we finish studies, we'll right on that", there's absolutely no timeline.

    • by div_2n ( 525075 )

      Your post is misleading at best. They only asked for $10,000 to fund them through the summer so they could dedicate themselves to this project and not have to find paid work. $10,000 for 4 people to last them several months really isn't that much money.

      The fact that they have gotten such a huge response has caused them to rethink their original plan of just a few months, produce something working and be happy. It would seem they are raising the bar exactly because of the huge response.

      Yes, this is the power

  • Why don't you ask the "donate now" button?
  • Opera Unite (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Zoidbot ( 1194453 )

    Diaspora is just a poor mans Opera Unite from what I can tell.

    Surely Opera own patents on this?

  • Is this a model that could be applied to other free software projects, or is it just a one-off?

    It's just a one-off. Next!

  • Diaspora sounds like a cuil idea!
  • Also see the discussion at http://bit.ly/dtsT44 [bit.ly] which touches on Diaspora ($100k+) and Humble Indie Bundle ($1m+) as examples of the future business model for the exchange of intellectual work and the money of the multitudes who want it produced.

  • This kinda thing only works when, like this, it is based on an existing product with wide appeal, and also has a lot of people looking for an alternative. Sure, that could fit a few apps but not every one. It's just like when big bands like Radiohead or others do a "pay what you want" for a new release and everyone praises it and claims it to be the wave of the future... go ahead and try that *before* you are mega-stars or not in some mainstream or popular genre... all 8 people that pay will totally make it

  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    No, it won't work. There are enough people out there who will say "Why does this non-existent software company need my money?". This is pretty silly.

    1. Why does anybody need hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop software? You're using a computer right now as you read it. Start coding. What's the money thing all about?

    2. These people haven't gotten together as a group (that I'm aware of or have ever heard of) and done anything together. Why would I throw money at an unproven group(?) of peo
    • by 228e2 ( 934443 )
      You do know that they met their fund raising goal in only 5 days, right?
    • 1. Why does anybody need hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop software? You're using a computer right now as you read it. Start coding. What's the money thing all about?

      Quality software takes time. Some people like being able to afford food, rent, and the overhead (however minimal) that it will cost to develop this concept. Keep in mind that if they raise $200K, that's still only $50K per developer assuming development only takes 1 year. And they'll have to make stickers, t-shirts, CDs, and so on and mail those out to people. As the majority gave at the $25 level (which includes a CD and t-shirt) at least half of that money is going into manufacturing, handling, and sh

  • Where's the CODE? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jjn1056 ( 85209 ) <jjn1056@yahoo.cTIGERom minus cat> on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:46AM (#32238140) Homepage Journal

    They got all this cash and... is there a code repository or something?

    • Supposedly, there will be. I'm a 'backer', but I fully realize I may well have tossed away my $50. It was worth it to me because these people look like they have a clue and this is been something I've been wanting for a long time.

      Also, I knew that my money would do a bit to increase the media coverage. I want people to be well aware that this project exists and that there's an alternative. I suppose it's rather early for the spotlight. The risk (aside from, you know, that they'll just commit fraud) is

  • Optimizing donations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <nacturationNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:55AM (#32238332) Journal

    Interesting the way their donations are structured:

    Pledge $10 or more
    Get a CD, note, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers

    Pledge $25 or more
    Get a CD, note, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers, and a awesome diaspora t-shirt!

    Pledge $50 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus 1 month free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), or free phone support for 1 month if you host your own.

    Pledge $100 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus 3 month free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), or free phone support for 3 months if you host your own.

    Pledge $350 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus 1 year free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), and free phone support for 1 year if you host your own.

    Pledge $1,000 or more [5 only]
    Get all of the above stuff, plus access to the nightly build server for Diaspora, so you can check out our progress all summer!

    Pledge $2,000 or more [4 only]
    Get everything above, plus we will send you a brand new computer fully configured so you can host your own Diaspora seed from right under your bed!

    The actual physical goodies stop at $25, and every level after that is soft goods. When you have to send out a t-shirt at the $25 level and they're on the hook for international shipping costs, how much is actually left over for development?

    I would have structured things a bit differently. Of course, this is with 20/20 hindsight with the knowledge that their project would get viral media coverage and the fundraising would exceed expectations.

    Pledge $10 or more
    Get an official sponsor certificate from the developers [really a PDF over email, no mailing expenses]

    Pledge $25 or more
    Get an official sponsor certificate, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers

    Pledge $50 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus an awesome diaspora coffee mug!

    Pledge $100 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus a cool diaspora polo shirt!

    Pledge $350 or more
    Get all the above stuff, plus a rocking diaspora laptop courier bag!

    Pledge $1,000 or more
    [Something along the lines of what they did, but something tangible as well. I also would have upped the slots. Instead of 5 only, make it 50.]

    Pledge $2,000 or more
    [Something along the lines of what they did, but something tangible other than the computer. I also would have upped the slots. Instead of 4 only, make it 20.]

    Pledge $10,000 or more
    [Why not? Something special as a silver level sponsor.]

    Pledge $25,000 or more
    [Something special as a gold level sponsor.]

    Pledge $50,000 or more
    [Something special as a platinum level sponsor... possibly credit on the site?]

    Pledge $100,000 or more
    [Hey, why stop now? Appeal to peoples' greed. 1% founders shares or something along those lines. This puts a $10M valuation on the company which is amazing for something that's 4 guys and an idea of cloning the 800lb market-leading gorilla.]

    • So hold on! I can get real stuff just for pledging? That's great. I'll pledge $1,000,000 (pinky to mouth). Now send me the goodies.
      • Sorry, you only get goodies if and when the project is funded [kickstarter.com] and your credit card is successfully charged:

        How do I make a pledge?
        First, enter your pledge amount and select a reward. On the next page we'll ask you to log in or sign up with Kickstarter, and then we'll send you to Amazon Payments to complete your pledge with a major credit card.

        When is my credit card charged?
        If this project is fully funded on June 01, 11:59pm EDT your credit card will be charged along with all the other backers of this projec

  • From the previous story I understood they had raised 23 grand (not 170) readily available (rather than pledges).

    Anyway, the "pledge" thing makes sense in this case, because what they're trying to do (a fully distributed, server-less social network) is extremely difficult or impossible to do. Yeah I know about DHT and kinda works for file sharing (by far less efficiently than tracker torrents), but even if they managed to pull that off, slow performance when looking up information and sections of the data b

  • The name sounds like a disease you contract after not taking a bath for several months.

    • by jridley ( 9305 )

      Well, I suppose it does if you don't have enough of a vocabulary to already know what the word means. It's not all that uncommon of a word. I quite like it myself.

    • by Myopic ( 18616 )

      Diaspora is a common word, known widely by middle schoolers who completed their first history classes, which is cleverly appropriated for a piece of software which has an architecture somewhat described by the word. It's not precisely a diaspora, but it's sort of like a diaspora, in a figurative sense. In my opinion they chose a great name.

  • Seriously, http://www.techdirt.com./ [www.techdirt.com] Mike Masnick is blogging on this topic since forever. But most of you probably know this already.

  • I read BoingBoing, SlashDot, The Register and a few others all via RSS, and I'm very interested in Facebook alternatives, yet the first I heard of this was after they'd already reached their funding goals. Did I just miss the story here?

    FWIW, I think Diaspora is an awesome name.

  • Interesting, how there suddenly is this flood of Diaspora “articles” here on /..
    I guess the motto must be: Repeat that it’s “oh so great”, until people start believing it. (Considering how many people here consider information a product that can be owned and stolen, it worked for MAFIAA FUD.)

    Sorry, I looked into diaspora at the first article. And it’s noting more than a half-assed idea made into a quickly hacked-together piece of software. The problem is, that the foundat

  • I sponsored them, out of a sense that their idea (distributed ownership of social networking) is a good idea. I think Facebook's multiple faux pas added a huge impetus to their publicity, the least of which was the NY Times article. Frankly, if you can get a NYTimes article you are heads and shoulders ahead in publicity.

    However, one thing did bother me about this, not the lack of contracts or whatever, it is a donation, with no expectations. But what are the rules that govern micro-finance loans, venture ca

  • Seriously - did anyone actually watch the video of the diaspora guys asking for money? Their idea was very weakly outlined, their presentation unprofessional, and their plan almost non-existent. It was the equivalent of a couple guys in their mom's basement smoking weed; "we should like ... umm build our own Facebook where everyone hosts their own pages. huh huh. We'll just make it super sweet."

    Those guys got lucky and milked a highly publicized privacy issue with Facebook at just the right time. If the

    • by jpop32 ( 596022 )

      Those guys got lucky and milked a highly publicized privacy issue with Facebook at just the right time. If there was a website for betting against startups, I would bet against Diaspora ever going anywhere.

      Well, even if it's only that, at least there is one thing clear. There is a significant demand for a social network where the main motivation of the owner/operator is not vacuuming private data to be sold to advertisers. The fact that everyday people, not VCs, banks or funds, are willing to put up almost $200k on mere promise of such a system is bound to get a lot of people thinking. Even if these guys fail miserably and bever be heard from again, the folks at Facebook should take this as very very bad news

  • $170,000 is quite a bit of money, but the problems I see:
    (1) They're on the hook to give people some physical merchandise - like t-shirts for everyone who pledged $25. This means they can't use all $170,000 for development.
    (2) These are pledges, and you never know if you'll hear back from those people making those pledges.
    (3) This project was particularly well-timed considering the people that have been unhappy with Facebook lately. There are how many millions of people on Facebook? (400 million users
    • I entirely agree.
      The problems of scalability that facebook has overcome is not trivial.
      From an infrastructure (my day job is routers and switches to be specific) POV its mind blowingly difficult esp they're starting from point X but need to architect to scale many magnitudes beyond.
      Just what the likes of google, FB, amazon do etc. is a field in itself in terms of scalability. Totally alien from your typical enterprise setup dealing with a few k users (couple of load balancers leading to a cluster), replicat

  • The Open Source Hardware Bank [oshwbank.org] is another interesting approach to raising money for an open source project. Of course hardware is very different from software, but I thought that someone might find it interesting.
  • When they have anything other than cool, unoriginal ideas to show, perhaps I'll wonder less why people are sending them money. Didn't we have enough gullible fools on the 'net already? Since when have a few determined college students needed up-front payments of that order of magnitude to even start coding? I recommend people to donate to the EFF or other organizations with a proven track record instead and I wish I didn't have to point it out.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors