Four young coders are tapping into public resentment of centralized social web services with Diaspora, a distributed social tool they plan to hack out this summer.
My reaction is mixed.
Part jealousy. At the speed and social proof these guys have achieved by saying they're going to build a tool. I haven't been able to successfully pitch prototypes of similar tools and concepts to investors who would own a large share of the resultant business. With over 83k raised in just a couple of weeks with absolutely no investor strings attached, the Diaspora team has tapped into the public far more effectively than I had imagined possible. I found out early this morning in a well thought post from my friend Ronen that my favorite blogger has broadcast his financial support for the project (disclosure he has invested in Kickstarter).
Part respect. They're doing everything right. They're crowd sourcing funding for a distributed social web tool which they'll open the source for as the summer goes on. I understand and respect what they're striving to establish: Removal of the social middleman and attention tax for large scale social web communication.
Part concern. This isn't the first time a new group decided to replicate the functionality of a centralized social network using open social protocols and standards. I actively followed open friendfeed after Facebook acquired the friendfeed company, and it has yet to gain any real traction almost a year later. Identi.ca leverages Status.net software to achieve an open form of Twitter but their social network has had a very slow growth that hasn't achieved wide spread adoption. There are other open social implementations that good friends have developed:
- OpenMicroBlogger is a suite of tools developed by all star hacker Brian Hendrickson.
- RedRob.in is my cofounder Tyler's Rails implementation of Status.net compliant social software, leveraging source he derived from OpenGard.in. "It's a fully ostatus compliant micro blogging platform I built in rails"
Overall I wish the young team great success, and hope they can leverage some of the tools and communication protocols that other folks have developed over the past few years.
In the comments I mentioned node.js without carefully reviewing the server code. I got a better understanding after reading the documentation and watching this presentation by Ryan Dahl