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If you know Diaspora* already and just want to know how to become part of it, simply skip the first two sections.

Social Networking

Linking with other people on the net is great, particularly if you have friends in far away places or enjoy a more nomadic lifestyle yourself. And it’s cheap to stay in touch and communicate since Facebook® and alike are free, or …?

Wrong! Facebook® will soon operate more than 100’000 servers and someone has to pay for all this. The mere quantity of equipment indicates, that Facebook® not only serves it’s users. A lot of juice goes into further processing of all this data in order to pour it into products interesting to enterprise customers.

In other words, your data is being sold. Your pictures, your posts and your links to other people are being sold. In fact, your entire digital self is being sold. And all this is perfectly legal since you have given Facebook® a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content” by agreeing to it’s terms. There are no limits as to what for.

But Facebook® doesn’t stop there, it aggregates data on people who are not active on Facebook®, it even creates shadow profiles for those who don’t even have a proper account. And unless you disable the well hidden automatic face recognition, machines will take over where you are lazy and interlink all faces on your uploaded pictures.

Some of this activity is illegal in many countries since it deals with personal data of people who have never agreed to the Facebook® terms. There will be lawsuits in the future, but meanwhile the data monster will continue to grow fat.

Big Brother Inc is watching you! And me, whether we agree or not.

Social Networking Reloaded

Roughly one year ago a group of developers began work on a crowdfunded next generation social network project called Diaspora*. The main difference: Unlike Facebook® your data is not stored in one centralized database owned by one giant enterprise but on an independent Diaspora* server called “pod”. These Diaspora* pods can communicate between each other and thus link friends and exchange posts across all pods of the Diaspora* network. You are free to choose any pod operator or even run your own pod.

If you ever change your mind, you can export all your data (which is utterly impossible on Facebook®). And soon it will be possible to take this export and recreate your profile on another pod.

How to Become Part of Diaspora*


But I Have All my Friends on Facebook® already

Diaspora* is still young and doesn’t offer nearly as many features as Facebook® yet. (As a side note: Diaspora* introduced ‘aspects’ later copied by Google+ as ‘circles’ and Facebook® as ‘lists’.) Furthermore, all your friends are on Facebook® which seems to make the change of social network unthinkable.

No problem, Diaspora* plays nice with other services such as Facebook® or Twitter®. If you want, it can forward all your posts on Diaspora* to Facebook® and it also offers a tool to ease the transition of your friend links. You won’t have to hit no big reset button and start from scratch, the idea is to convince one friend at a time and thus slowly move towards the day when Facebook® becomes obsolete.

If you run a server, you might consider to install your own Diaspora* pod.

Everybody else is better off with a public Diaspora* pod. All pods are equal, but you might prefer certain operators based on who runs the pod or it’s physical and thus legal location.

  1. Choose any public Diaspora* pod.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Link your account to your Facebook® account.
  4. Check out the tutorials and/or FAQ to learn the easy to use basics.

To connect with other people, sign in to Diaspora* and simply look for them in the top search field. However, keep the following in mind: Since users are spread on many independent Diaspora* pods, you have to search for the fully qualified username which resembles an email address. (Mine is for instance.) Fetching usernames from other pods may take a moment, so if your search doesn’t instantly yield any results, just wait a minute and try again.

(Sven Schwyn)


Matthias said on Wednesday, November 30, 2011:

As always, excellent and inspiring information! I will look into that Diaspora thing, sounds like an answer to my concerns regarding facebook, and google+.

Thanks Sven!

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