Diaspora is open-source personal web server software intended to provide a decentralized alternative to Facebook. It is currently under development by Dan Grippi, Max Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirsky, and will be released in September 2010.
The project’s intent is to provide the ability to have “the little games, the little walls, the little chat” that a Facebook user’s experience currently provides, but instead hosted on users’ personal web servers (called “seeds”) so that users can “fully control the information they share.”
Users will share pictures and videos securely via GPG, and Diaspora software will allow services to optionally interact, so that a photograph uploaded to an image hosting service (e.g., Flickr) might automatically generate an update to a microblogging service (e.g., Twitter). The software will incorporate OpenID, VOIP, distributed encrypted backups, an instant messaging protocol, and UDP.
The project was announced on April 24, 2010 on Kickstarter and reached its initial $10,000 fundraising goal in 12 days. In the weeks that followed, it raised more than seventeen times the original goal, mostly via a stream of small donations.
The group was inspired to create Diaspora by a February 5, 2010 speech by Columbia University law professor Eben Moglen to the Internet Society, “Freedom in the Cloud”, in which Moglen described centralized social networks as “spying for free.”
After its foundation is completed, Diaspora’s developers intend to concentrate on creating a “battery of add-on modules” in order to “facilitate any type of communication”, and plan to offer a paid hosting service for Diaspora seeds.