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28 August 2012, 12:15

Diaspora social network to be a community project

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Diaspora project logo

The Diaspora social network, designed as a free software open alternative to the personal information and privacy consuming Facebook, is to become a community project. Diaspora was launched two years ago by four New York University students, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer, through a KickStarter campaign. But, after developing the software and trying to build the network to critical mass, the remaining founders have announced that they will be handing the project over to the community in a staged transition.

The plan to hand the project over to the community appears to have been developed before the founders spent this summer at startup accelerator Y-Combinator. In an interview with Bloomberg before going to Y-Combinator, they referred to their plans to evolve Diaspora and then "open it to the public".

"As a Free Software social project, we have an obligation to take this project further, for the good of the community that revolves around it" said Grippi and Salzberg, who add that they plan to stay involved with the project. Diaspora's design was based around "pods", independently controlled Diaspora servers which users could either share or be the sole user, and then use to create connections to other users and their pods.

As the servers were independently run, users have better control over their personal information, especially compared to Facebook which regularly revises its privacy controls and permissions. According to statistics from the project, there are 125 pods running with 381,649 users and 1,856,969 connections between them.

The transition to the community has begun with the opening of the project's Pivotal Tracker, used for tracking user stories and planning, to more users. The developers have also launched a tool which allows Diaspora to be deployed through a one-click installer onto the Heroku app hosting service. The switch to a community-driven project will be shepherded by Sean Tilley, Open Source Community Manager for Diaspora. Salzberg and Grippi will now be working on their new, recently launched project,


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