UPDATE (13/03/2011):

I have come across a solution to those who wish to try setting up their own Diaspora pod without all the hassle. It is based on SuSe and works as a VM with everything pre-installed. Please note however the comments at the bottom. I think it is good to try out and perhaps use as a pod for you and your friends but I don’t totally recommend it as a public pod, but that’s up to you. The link is: http://susegallery.com/a/qkdvwb/diaspora-pod



It’s been a while since my last post, and my apologies for that. Moving house is such a pain.

As you may have heard late last year (or maybe you haven’t), a group of NY students have been working on an open-source alternative to Facebook.
According to the students, this was made to put you back in charge of your own security.

But the question is, what is Diaspora exactly, and how is it something worth considering if you already have Facebook?

Diaspora is a social network that tries to do what Facebook does: Send messages to the world, to your friends, allows you to post comments, post pictures etc.

What makes it different to Facebook is a couple of tiny yet genius things:

In Facebook you add friends and they become a list of all your contacts, there is nothing wrong with that, but if like me you have people you add who have that annoying habit of adding people to their list that they found under your friends list (even if they don’t know them), then it becomes a problem.
The security settings are fine, but don’t cater for that problem because you only have the option to either hide things or make them visible to friends.

This is where Diaspora is different:

Diaspora works with ‘aspects’, they are groups that you can create and name such as ‘family’, ‘work’, ‘friends’. And when you add people, you choose which aspect they  fall under and the aspects are not connected to eachother.
When you post a new comment, you can post it from ‘home’ in which case everyone in all aspects can see it, or per aspect where other aspects don’t see it. This in my opinion fixes that problem entirely.

Another great point is this:

After having seen many news programs about the absolute terrible security flaws of Facebook, I find myself worried about my data on their servers.
Now Diaspora has openly come out and said that as of current there are a couple of bugs that are being straightened out but they have something to combat this idea which a lot of people have not yet realised.

Diaspora is not like Facebook or MySpace a single big social network.
In fact, Diaspora (as the name suggests if you speak Greek) is a scattering of networks which are uniquely connected.

Every person who has a bit of knowledge about computers and preferably Ruby and the likes is able to start his/her own network called a ‘pod’.
They can then choose to either invite people on their pod, or they close it for a certain amount of people only. Meaning that the information you share stays exactly where you want it to be, instead of some strangers server.

Now you may be wondering: ‘What good is a social network that consists of 5 people I know?’

When a server is set up, and an account created on your network (we will use Bob as an account name and myserver.com as your private server as an example), then your Diaspora account becomes bob@myserver.com. If someone is on a totally different Diaspora server on the other side of the world, they can add you by looking for bob@myserver.com and can contact you as if you were on the same server.

As I said, security is in your hands.

Due to this new idea of social networking, a lot of people have signed up at http://www.joindiaspora.com and waiting for an invite thinking that is the only way to join Diaspora.

Well, I hope this explains that it is far from the truth.

In fact, simply google for public pods if you wish to join a pod and start using Diaspora.

Or if you go to the official Diaspora website, it also has instructions on how to set up your own server on a Linux box.

NOTE: I am currently working on a script that will install Diaspora server on a computer running Ubuntu instead of that lengthy instruction manual.

Please note, Diaspora is currently in Alpha, and therefore it has many features still missing, if you use Facebook for more than just keeping up to date with people, you will be disappointed right now. But if like me, you just use Facebook for some messaging and posting pictures and tell people what you are up to, then I recommend Diaspora.

If you want to try Diaspora, don’t want to do research on a good pod, don’t want to host your own pod but still want to go ahead, then I recommend http://www.diasp.org for the intro page and https://diasp.org for a good Diaspora pod