Amid some excitement and some skepticism, the so-called “Facebook killer” finally launched its Alpha version earlier this week. The first batch of invitations have been sent. Will you ask for yours?
Although initial backers will be first in line, the guys at Diaspora have promised to quickly start making their way through the mailing list. “By taking these baby steps,” they say, “we’ll be able to quickly identify performance problems and iterate on features as quickly as possible.”
You may or may not have heard about Diaspora by now, so let me give you a brief summary of how it works: Diaspora lets you keep doing whatever it is you like doing online -tweeting, sharing links and photos, posting stuff on Flickr- but your data remains completely under your control. You own your information and you can choose who gets to see what by simply creating “lists” of people; no need for constant changes in your privacy settings. There is no single site for Diaspora, but rather a lot of people running the same software and connecting to form a “network.”
The catch: You would have to host your content on your own server or get one from a hosting site.
The bright side: Diaspora doesn’t get to own or use your personal data to sell it to websites you visit, games you play, or to advertisers.
Did you check out already? Yeah, that’s the problem.
As AllFacebook’s editor Nick O’Neill already explained, there are several potential problems facing Diaspora. Its success relies on two assumptions: 1- The average Facebook user gives a darn about their privacy 2- The average Facebook user will care enough about #1 that she will take the time to learn how to set up a server and do whatever they’ll need to do in order to manage and push their stuff to friends. And also, Nick believes Facebook is too big for Diaspora to succeed.
Diaspora’s model might prove too complex to ever gain critical mass, true. But by rolling the project out slowly, Diaspora increases their chances to get valuable feedback in order to keep simplifying the project; better said, they stand a better chance at making the software easy enough to use so that by the time it finally reaches the casual user, it might be as simple as setting up a blog. But will it have to be even simpler than that? We’re about to find out.
I, for one, asked for an invite today. I want to try it out, at least. What do you guys think?