I recently ran across some information about a program called Diaspora. It touts itself to be to Facebook what Kazaa was to Napster. In other words, instead of all your Facebook posts and pictures sitting on a centralized sever it is distributed. There is no central controlling body to restrict usage or gather data and sell it to the highest bidder. Complete privacy, if you want it. Finally, a real social network.
I do see one down side to the way Diaspora is setup. Let me begin with this analogy: in many ways Facebook is like King George the III of England and the users like the 13 colonies. The king sends out an edict that must be followed without consulting the users. He changes things on a whim to suit his fancy and bring more money into his coffers. Diaspora is thus analogous to the colonies declaring independence from king facebook. They started the Articles of Confederation which was a loose banding together of strong states. In this analogy the inidividual pods are like the different states that communicate and pass information but are otherwise autonomous... having their own currencies, laws and a central governance with no teeth to enforce compliance.
Diaspora is a step in the right direction, just as the Articles of Confederation were for the colonies. However, Diaspora, or something else, will evolve and become slightly more federated (only slightly). This change and evolution should be very open. What are your thoughts?
If you would like to join the Diaspora movement, contact me and I will send you an invite to my pod at diaspora.hstuff.net.
Some nerdy details:
Diaspora is installable on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. I installed it on a headless computer running a minimalistic install of Debian. The installation instructions I followed were not clear. It is my intent, given enough time, to improve those. I also installed an ssl certificate because Diaspora enforces encryption. Quite a relief from the early days of un encrypted logging-in on facebook. I also attempted to install and use this with a Apache2 setup as reverse proxy. That failed and I decided to use NginX instead which worked easily. I also had to setup DNS to point to my little Debian server. I still need to get my diaspora to connect to facebook, twitter and Cubbi.es (the Diaspora version of Pinterest).