Diaspora - your thoughts?

I discovered the Diaspora project yesterday, and if you haven’t come across it yet, have a looksee - it is really quite exciting : http://www.joindiaspora.com/project.html

My initial thoughts on it are twofold. Essentially the project aims to take social networking and remove the “hub”/ centralis(z)ed power of it. Think MSN/ICQ vs online chat rooms. Born of a sensible argument against 3rd party control of your data and privacy issues, it is an absolute gem of an idea.

…but… it does rather turn the idea of the cloud on it’s head - or at the very least lays it sideways :smiley:

They aim to have a hosted version as far as I can tell (ala wordpress), but the main idea is that your information resides on your computer. Effectively a mini webserver/chat client that you can use to connect directly to you friends, and use as a conduit for other services.

I may be misreading it, but it seems to me that that screams “the cloud is dead”. I suppose there are solutions that fit somewhere in the middle. Combine that with secure, online, private storage and things could still work out pretty. Perhaps the Diaspora app could connect to your LiveDrive, .mac or whatever account - allowing you to have both privacy and cloudyness (although the wider argument for lack of privacy/security with any online storage service still lurks).

I’m not sure where it will go. Nobody (including the devs) are 100% what it is yet. But it is a VERY interesting seed of an idea.


If you’ve seen the number of people infected by botnet’s, spyware and other malware, I wouldn’t trust most end users with a computer, let alone Internet access - people should have to have a license to use one, like a car! Giving the user power over their information is a noble idea, but the facts are unfortunately supportive that most end-users are totally ignorant of the risks and putting your eggs in one basket is asking for trouble. I would much prefer to have someone like Google who have dedicated security professionals deal with the safety of my information - they at least can be held accountable - end-user human stupidity can’t. :slight_smile:

Hmmm - interesting Alex, hadn’t thought about viruses etc potentially targeting the “app”. While I get your point, I think people are potentially more susceptible to a “phishing” attack for just about any log in details than they are to be hit by a virus attacking their system and nicking stuff filed with the app. I could well be wrong there though - that’s a hunch based on no evidence.

I’m not opposed to “the cloud” per se - just interested in people that are addressing concerns with where it may go. I’m actually looking at online back-up solutions for sensitive data at the moment.

sg707, while I understand what you mean about the techieness, assuming the final product shares it’s difficulty of use with the likes of MSN, people should be OK with it. How many non-techheads do you know that IM?


so why would I think by running this software in my computer be any better?

Because you do not give up rights to your private data (blogs, comments, pics, contact details) to a third party, and can have them dissamapear at any time… at least that is my understanding.

This product is so weird to me. So instead of trusting security and resources to a site like Facebook, you do it yourself? Are they serious? I looked at some video explaining what this product does. It seems like Social Network Portal that connects to various Social Network site. So, instead of going to tweeter, facebook, myspace, etc… you go to their one site and connect to all of them.

I don’t get it… it seems like I have a complete different picture of what this product is. If what you guys say are true then… I’m sorry but count me out on this product. Just an idea of running a “mini server” or IM like software just doesn’t sound right to me. Plus, how does this exactly make it more secure? It sounds like P2P torrent program w/ a permission based configurations. For big Social Network app like Facebook, they work very tightly w/ the gov’t to improve the security already… so why would I think by running this software in my computer be any better? For pics and videos, I keep it in my USB drive. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something… I still don’t get it…

It’s pretty awesome how much money they raised for a project that not many gets :lol:

So instead of being Facebook property, it’ll be yours? Still, I think this may be too cumbersome for non-techy people to use. Most are used to just going to URL and sign in. Now, it’s install the software, configure the software, goto some web site… sounds very complicated for most social network users.

Seems crazy to me still… if you want things to be secure, the public are the worst possible place to leave the security of their info. Yes Facebook, Google and everyone else has other stuff wrong with them in terms of privacy… however if you just account for virus infection rates, botnet ratios and the general public ignorance of how the web works, it’s like handing the keys to the castle to someone with amnesia (in that they’ll lose the data). :slight_smile:

So basically… the information is on your machine to which you’ll need your machine on 24/7 in order to access it from everywhere whenever and wherever you need it. Sorry but to me it sounds rather counter-productive, like a DIY server solution which has all the issues that keeping your information running locally has (such as no off-site backup and having to maintain it yourself). There’s a reason why the cloud is becoming popular, and the issues of privacy aren’t nearly as bad as what the press would lead you to believe, places like dropbox are built like a military base where not even the staff can access any of the information (it’s all heavily encrypted and the CEO along with 2 other people ALL have to turn the keys at the same time to unlock the algorithm) - I listened to a lengthy interview with the founder as to how their stuff works. That service seems as backward and counter-productive as you can get. The cloud is the future, not dead. :slight_smile:

BTW: Saying you control the information is totally incorrect, if you put it online there’s no way you can prevent other people taking or archiving that information and then hosting it externally thereby keeping the information online and leaving you powerless to totally remove the information from the web.

Not quite so if the system works in a fashion similar to IM clients. Yes, other people you are connected to could keep the information, but as the idea is that it is only your friends that have that capacity, it is pretty far removed from uploading it to a server that is utterly controlled by a 3rd party (such as Facebook).

As far as issues regarding leaving the machine on 24/7 go, as I said, I’m still not sure exactly how they are hoping to achieve the system - and that may well be the case. But then I know loads of people that now have MSN on 24/7 through their phones (personally I use it less and less). And the idea that you can “switch access off” is not such a bad one imho.

As far as the security of data centers go - it’s pretty much a non-issue. I have been to several data warehouses in Dublin (including Google’s), and you are right, security is extra-ordinarily tight, including the likes of gel fingerprint readers, retina scanners etc. However peoples concerns don’t lie with some spook infiltrating a secure data center and nicking their holiday photos, they are more to do with data profiling - something you effectively have to give permission for in order to use certain social networking sites - and the fact that the data gathered can be used for time eternal by whoever fancies access to it.

I am intrigued by a “midway” solution. Using something like Diaspora as a conduit for permissions / friends networks, and secure housing (with no rights regarding the data given) ala Livedrive, Dropbox etc.

I agree that it sounds counter-productive in an age when the cloud seems like the future. But to simply dismiss privacy issues as press scaremongering is I believe something of a lack of foresight - the area is being given scrutiny more and more in academic circles…with very good reason.

It will be very interesting to see how this pans out :slight_smile:

i don’t get it

It’s much like an instant messenger client from what I can tell. Mashed with a social networking site. So your photos are stored on YOUR computer, not a third party site. Comments left to and from you are controlled by you, not left on a third party server.

At it’s simplest. When you decide you no longer want to play, all of your personal data (photos, messages, comment etc) are in YOUR control. You pull 'em, they no longer exist in the ether. Currently things like Facebook (and even to a degree this very forum) have copies of everything you do. Some may use things unscrupulously in the future, or (particularly in the case of Facebook), may offer privacy settings that require a degree in computer science, leaving you vulnerable to accidentally exposing yourself to people you don’t want to (ooeeer!).

This essentially aims to banish that.