Yes, I digress, but I really want to share my first-hand experiences with one of the most hyped up social networks last year, when Facebook received rage from its design revamps and policy changes.

I remember reading quite a lot of posts about Diaspora being the Facebook counter mid last year. (Check out their Kickstarter page here, which raised $200,000. Yes, that much.) But after that, it seems like the hype has died down; I registered for their alpha testing, only to be invited now (read: nearly one and a half years later). Oh wells, I suppose it’s late than never.

Clicking onto the alpha invite link, I got directed to the registration page, where I could link my account to Facebook. What? Turns out that Diaspora wants to simplify your registration process, and thus chose to use Facebook to do so – after all, I guess the experience on Diaspora is really different from that on Facebook (to be covered later). Strangely enough, it pulled my name as Xian You You instead of Xian You Lim. Hahaha.

Diaspora also asked me to indicate my interests with #hashtags, which became clear when I was brought to its home page.

A few first impressions:

  • It looks scarily like Google+. After Googling I found out that apparently it’s Google+ that actually copied their interface – I like Google+’s interface so naturally this appeals to me. It’s really a sad thing that they didn’t take off before Google+ did though, because now everyone will think that they are the copiers.
  • You follow #hashtags, and your news feed is populated by feeds with these tags. Sorta like a moderately populated Twitter. I guess this is how Diaspora is different from other social networks at the moment; you read things you like without the need for mutual confirmation (just follow, no need to approve friend requests etc). Definitely a great way of sharing information, in my opinion.
  • Aspects: Ways to control your friends. Google+ definitely adopted this too (as Circles), and Facebook also did it in one of their updates. Again, an original idea that is unfortunately stolen.

Currently, my feed is spammed with people who post that they are #newhere. I guess that’s how a new social network starts.

I’m actually quite lost to what I can do at the moment; there’s not much useful information there, and to invite my friends from Facebook, I got to scroll through that freaking long list of my Facebook friends (1k+), without a search function. I mean seriously.. Can’t you make the process a little bit more user-friendly?

In terms of what you can share, it’s the standard stuff: statuses (but you can #hashtag them!), photos, GIFs (which is apparently quite popular at Diaspora*) and videos. Good that they have the same features as the competition, but currently the user-generated content is not very healthy I guess. You can’t blame them on that though, as Diaspora is (I think) supposed to be installed at your own server and only shared between your chosen circle of friends. (Source link)

I don’t mean to complain a lot, but the Diaspora server is certainly slow. Loading any page takes up to 10 seconds for it to respond, and that certainly isn’t nice. But I suppose if you have your own server it will be blazing fast on your local network anyway.

To be honest, I haven’t read up on what Diaspora* really wants to achieve yet, but from a random consumer’s perspective, I guess there’s not much interest for me to use it at the moment. I’ll probably just visit it once a day to check out for interesting things. It’s really saddening that their designs and ideas were kind of stolen by Google in their social network..


One thought on “Diaspora

  1. AFAIK, Diaspora aims to privatize social network by allowing users to host it on their own server. That way, people have control over whatever that is shared and keep them private (i.e. no one owns their data unlike Facebook, Google+, etc). It is an open-source project and you can grab the source code here.

    I’m not sure who copied who, but I’m pretty sure Google conducted lots of research, especially on Circles. I actually wanted to come up with something similar to Circles, and stumbled upon this slide deck while researching. The presentation was given by a Googler (surprise surprise!) more than a year ago (he is working at Facebook now). So I don’t think Google stole the idea of Circles. As for the design, I have no idea who came up with it :s

    I actually wanted to blog about Diaspora earlier this week, after I read that one of the founders committed suicide, at the age of 22. Personally, I was deeply saddened by the news because it is a huge loss to the hacker and startup community, especially so for a young and talented lad like him 😦

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