A few days ago, we noted that Diaspora was three weeks away from unveiling their open-source Facebook alternative. But a small update today clarifies one important point. On September 15, Diaspora will release the open source code for the project. But it won’t be until October that the first consumer-facing alpha is available.
This isn’t a major hiccup, it’s just an update to make sure people aren’t expecting to be able to use Diaspora on September 15. Instead, at that time, developers will have a chance to tinker around with what the team has come up with in these past several weeks — with the $200,000 they raised from 6,500 people through Kickstarter back in June.
But the October alpha could end up being the more important time for the project. While all the open sourcing and distributed network stuff sounds great, it sounds great to a group of a few thousand developers and uber-nerds. If Diaspora really wants to get any traction, they’re going to need a killer front-end that gives people an actual reason to use it instead of Facebook. (Or they’ll need someone else to make that based on their code — but that will obviously be months away, at the earliest.)
Luckily, it sounds like the team is saying the right things in this regard. Here’s the key part of their update from a few days ago:
We are spending a good chunk of time concentrating on building clear, contextual sharing. That means an intuitive way for users to decide, and not notice deciding, what content goes to their coworkers and what goes to their drinking buddies. We know that’s a hard UI problem and we take it seriously. The publicity and money that you have given us has let us work with great designers like Janice Frasier, through her new program LUXr, whose constant reminders that we are not the user have kept us honest and focused. Pivotal Labs has also helped us prioritize, and we have pushed back more technical features like plugins and APIs in favor of simple and high value features. Our original goals remain the same, and these features are still in our timeline.
I personally can’t wait to see what they have come up with.
Here’s their full update today:
Addendum (8/30): To clarify, September 15 will be our open-source developer release. At that time, we will open up our github repository, publish our roadmap, and shift our development style to be more community oriented. We intend on launching a consumer facing alpha in October. Join our mailing listto get an invite.
Diaspora is a project begun by four students at NYU’s Courant Institute. They proposed to build an open-source, distributed social network as an alternative to companies such as Facebook. The team decided to raise $10,000 using Kickstarter by June 1. In light of Facebook’s recent moves concerning privacy, the team has received far more support than expected. With news coverage by Fox on May 11th and a writeup from the New York Times on May 12th exposure took off. The...