OK, perhaps I was a bit hasty getting the hump with Diaspora*. On second, or possibly third glance - and with a little more patience - I found one of their 'pods' (diasp.org) that was open to me. And what a lovely welcome I've had.
A week or so ago, Mark Zuckerberg (heard of him?) posted: "In an hour I’m going to testify in front of the Senate about how Facebook needs to take a broader view of our responsibility -- not just to build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good. I will do everything I can to make Facebook a place where everyone can stay closer with the people they care about, and to make sure it's a positive force in the world."
Meanwhile, and since 2010, Diaspora have been getting on with just that. And here's my review of their warm and wonderful community in my #alt2fb series ...
I'm assessing Facebook alternatives via these criteria: Brief introduction; What THEY say; Positives; Negatives; Ease of sign-up, use & connection with others and 'Money' Munson's verdict. All are here on Steemit and voiced as podcasts on Spreaker: https://www.spreaker.com/show/radio-for-a-world-that-works
So let's crack on with a Brief Introduction to Diaspora (via the 'diasp.org' pod)
I was first invited to join Diaspora back in 2011, and for some reason figured it was too much trouble. Surely one good social network would be enough!
Things have changed since then, drastically in the last month, and the Model T of social networks (you can have any network as long as it's blue) is facing a wave of insecurity that will usher in competitors and disruptors who've been waiting for such a stage to show up on.
Diaspora, one such outlier, is a user-owned, 'stream'-based network, and has the vibe of a tech-savvy, peer-to-peer, open source gathering. It's more functional than shiny, and is not gran-friendly, though if any grandmother did Kung Fu her technophobic tendencies, she'd get a warm welcome here. I did. I still am.
What THEY say
What better way to start than with Bill and Ted's great advice - "Be excellent to each other" - in the left hand margin, as a user-guide?
The whole experience comes courtesy of the Diaspora Foundation, who promise "The online social world where you are in control", which is based on three key principles: Decentralization, Freedom and Privacy.
- Based on Decentralization, Freedom and Privacy
- Your data is YOURS
- NO Advertising
- Friendly & responsive
- Host your own 'pod'
- #tag-based curation and searching
- Post from any browser using Diaspora's bookmarklet
- Integration with other platforms
- Probably not for your gran - 3 out of 5 on the Gran-scale
- Not a thing of beauty - more function than form
- Not a place to earn from contribution or curation, though not billed as such
Ease of sign-up, use & connection with others
Getting in and started is straightforward. Your email is used for registration, but will never be shared with other users.
Here's the welcome I got in my inbox, which gives you an idea how their 'pods' work...
Once in, I posted my customary invitation to converse and a request for feedback on other user's experiences, via this post...
As well as 3 likes and 2 shares, I've received 10 replies over the last few days (during which I drifted away on other business), including this very helpful welcome message...
Among the helpful and friendly responses were:
"Hi and welcome!"
"Since its federated network, pods ‘talk’ with each other so there is no need to maintain multiple accounts on multiple servers." (Responding to my question about signing up to a particular 'pod')
"Hi there! You have found the best alternative to FB. Welcome :D"
"This can be an alternative to FB, but is not the same at all! Not even close!"
"That’s great. Spread the word. Liberate as many as you can."
"I am on Steemit too, but I see it more as a blogging platform. Diaspora is casual social media of choice for me."
Rather than friending, other Diaspora users will start 'sharing' with you, and you can reciprocate with your own level of connection (known in Diaspora as 'aspects')...
'Money' Munson's verdict
I'll begin with Wikipedia's introduction (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaspora_%28social_network%29):
"Diaspora is a nonprofit, user-owned, distributed social network that is based upon the free Diaspora software. Diaspora consists of a group of independently owned nodes (called pods) which interoperate to form the network. As of March 2014, there are more than 1 million Diaspora accounts."
"The social network is not owned by any one person or entity, keeping it from being subject to corporate take-overs or advertising. In September 2011 the developers stated, "...our distributed design means no big corporation will ever control Diaspora. Diaspora will never sell your social life to advertisers, and you won’t have to conform to someone’s arbitrary rules or look over your shoulder before you speak.""
What's not to love about that?!
As for me, this is one of those 'outside-in' networks where inhabitants will come to meet and greet you, rather than something you have to throw your address book at to get any social traction. There's no sign of tumblweed. And I love that there's a link that encourages you to go welcome new users with the tag #newhere.
As the welcome message says: "The experience you have on this network is in your own hands… good luck! =D"
So it's not a bells and whistles, feature-filled playground, consumer experience. You'll need to go more towards the MeWe and Vero neighbourhoods if you want to be stroked with features and visually delighted. Here, it's more in the Mastodon and onG Social end of things, with the rapidity of interaction of the former and the tech-mindedness visonary-ness of the latter.
[Not pretty, but functional]
Diaspora is not about market-share and marketing campaigns, and I doubt they use a PR company. Grass-roots growth - among those in the know - is the order of the day and coming years for this network, hence my early misunderstanding about getting signed up. As a Diasporant, you'll more likely be invited by a friend, than clicked through to membership in a mass-marketed numbers game.
There's no talk of the Blockchain and you won't earn from contribution or curation here, but that's not why it came about.
To conclude, I like Terry Hancock's prophetic review in Free Software Magazine back in 2011 entitled: "Why You Should Join Diaspora Now, Like Your Freedom Depends On It":
"With all of the concerns over who controls the “Social Web” – regarding the Google+ name policy and other privacy issues, Facebook’s questionable ethics, and the overall danger of controlled networks. I think it is extremely important for a more decentralized, more democratic, more open, and more free solution to succeed in the interest of personal freedom on the internet. And it looks to me like Diaspora is an essential part of that solution, so I’m endorsing it now, even though it’s not entirely 'ready'"
Seven years later, it's certainly ready to welcome anyone freaked out by Facebook, having stayed on a proven, steady and ethical course.
Sign up for Diaspora's 'diasp.org' pod here: https://diasp.org/i/f999612e38e8 - where you'll find me as: 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Please note: Features and opinions are subject to change. This review is written in good faith and intent. Comments are welcome. Relevant adjustments and edits will be gladly made. Screenshots are shared for illustrative purposes only.