It’s been over a year since Diaspora raised over $200,000 towards the creation of an alternative, decentralized social network. It was less than three months later that the first screenshots of their project hit the web, but since then — well, it would be disingenuous to say we haven’t heard anything (they sent out alpha invites just last month, for instance), but they sure haven’t been making a lot of noise over there.
And it seems that although the original goal for their Kickstarter project was a mere $10,000, twenty times that amount still falls short of the money needed to develop and launch a competitor to the biggest site on the internet. So they’re asking for more.
There’s no shame in that, of course: startups around the world go a-begging to their VCs, investors, and even friends and parents when the coffee runs out. And plenty of software projects are entirely funded by donations. Diaspora, in a slightly twee member email and blog post, explains that they need a bit of cash to keep the magic happening:
At its core, Diaspora* is a new community, a uniquely free one, based on a positive vision of how we can all experience community online.
It’s a community effort too. Which is why so many people are contributing in whatever way they can. And why we hope you’ll take a moment to give $25.-, or whatever you can, to support this vision today.
And here is the donation link, if you’re so inclined. You’ll get an invite to the alpha if you’re not already in it.
It sounds to me like they’re dealing with the reality of launching a product. While they could bang out the guiding principles, basic UI, and so on in a month or two of caffeine-and-righteousness-fueled hyperproductivity, the devil is, as always, in the details. Making it secure, scalable, flexible, and accessible are just as important as the idea behind it in the first place. After all, you only get one big launch — unless you’re Color.
Hopefully the community will pull through with a little money to keep them going. I’m anxious to see the project, not because I’m especially displeased with Facebook or Google+, but because this, unlike those services, is truly centered on the user, not on advertising or data farming. That would be like a breath of fresh air these days.