Diaspora has launched its consumer-facing alpha (as opposed to the last release that was for developers and tinkerers only). The privacy-conscious social network was off to a bit of a rocky start since it was profiled (in the media, on the web) enthusiastically as The Facebook Killer – a level of expectation that led to huge crowd-funding on Kickstarter as well as completely overwhelming expectations no one could possible live up to.
Fast forward half a year to now. The dust has settled, the first release is out. The “alpha” isn’t in the name to look more cute, it actually is a very early release with likely a lot of bugs and certainly only very basic functionality.
However, it does seem to work, and after the first few pokes at the service it looks quite good to me. A few screenshots:
The blog, just because I kinda like the logo.
The Diaspora dashboard is clean and minimalistic. Works fine for me, but it’ll only really become clear how usable it is once more contacts are linked to my profile.
To handle privacy and granular sharing, Diaspora uses the metaphor of “aspects” of your identity. An aspect could be your friends, your family, your work life: you can choose granularly which of these groups sees what you post. In Diaspora’s own words:
Diaspora lets you create “aspects,” which are personal lists that let you group people according to the roles they play in your life. We think that aspects are a simple, straightforward, lightweight way to make it really clear who is receiving your posts and who you are receiving posts from. It isn’t perfect, but the best way to improve is to get it into your hands and listen closely to your response.
At a glance this makes a lot of sense. Again, time will tell if it holds up.
On your dashboard you can also always see with whom you shared what kind of information.
Status updates and photos can also easily shared with external services. So far (ironically) this is limited to Twitter and Facebook. You cross-post by simply ticking the “make public” box.
User profiles are very minimalistic as of yet – for example you can’t put in a link to an external website. The age indicator is one of the less charming ones – never before have I actually felt old using a social network ;)
Since Diaspora is positioned as a more responsible social network than Facebook, data export and deleting your account is a simple enough task:
It’ll take a little while to test it all in full, and to gather a bit of a crowd on Diaspora to check out all the interactions. But at a first glance, despite this being very clearly alpha ware, it looks very promising. Another half year, maybe, and this may be a F… no. I’m kidding. This has nothing to do with Facebook, or being a Facebook killer – but it really doesn’t have to. This looks great by itself.