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Giulio Prisco (M, 62)
Budapest, HU
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    Join the free Diaspora and build YOUR mindfile
    I have been using Facebook for a few years, at the beginning not very much, but now I use it more and more often. Most of my friends are there, Facebook is a very quick and convenient way to stay in touch, and I am beginning to consider it also as a very good alternative to email, discussion group and blogs. And, it has also a very useful mobile app.

    Like many other users, i am beginning to depend on Facebook too much. I don't like to depend on things which belong to others who get to make the rules, and I don't like monopolies. Social networking is huge and Facebook has already a (well deserved) place in history, like Apple, Microsoft and Google. But I think it is evident that it is time to move on to more open and distributed alternatives.

    At the beginning of the 90s I was an avid Compuserve user, and I liked it a lot. But then the Web arrived and everything / everybody moved to the Web in a few years. Compared to Compuserve, the Web offered the same features (and eventually many more) in an open and distributed way. Everyone could choose one or more service providers, send email to anyone, browse web pages on any server, set up their own pages, and move them to another host if needed.

    If Facebook is Compuserve, where is the Web? Is Diaspora the future of social networking? From Wikipedia: "Diaspora is a free personal web server that implements a distributed social networking service, providing a decentralized alternative to social network services like Facebook... Diaspora works by letting users set up their own server (or "pod") to host content; pods can then interact to share status updates, photographs and other social data. It allows its users to host their data with a traditional web host, a cloud based host, an ISP, or a friend. The framework, which is being built on Ruby on Rails, is free software and can be experimented with by millions of developers." Diaspora promises, indeed, a diaspora - from commercial walled gardens to free P2P networks.

    I have been using Diaspora for a few weeks. I should be more precise: I have been using the Diaspora service maintained by the Diaspora development team at joindiaspora.com. My handle is giulioprisco@joindiaspora.com, feel free to add me. But Diaspora is a distributed network, and everyone can set up a node ("pod" in diasporaspeak) in the Diaspora network. Pods can be self-hosted on a home PC or hosted remotely, and there are already many Diaspora pods. I have also joined other two Diaspora pods at my-seed.com (handle perplexingpoultry@my-seed.com) and diasp.org (handle giulioprisco@diasp.org). At this moment you can join these two pods without an invitation.

    Eventually, Diaspora may become a social web: a large decentralized network of pods operated by different individual and groups, linked by common protocols, and able to deliver all the things (friends, status updates, chat, groups, pictures, video, like, unlike, share...) that we have in Facebook and many more. But the important difference is that the Diaspora social web will not belong to anyone but its users, and users will have full control over their data and their presence. Don't like your current Diaspora service provider? Move to another one with all your data, install the Diaspora software on your home PC and become your own service provider, or start a new service provider! As a user, you are always in total control of what is stored, where, and shared with whom. And if you are a programmer you can contribute to the code as well.

    Beautiful, but what does Diaspora do now in its current Beta (sorry, alpha) status? Not really much: it is bare-bone work in progress. The look&feel is modern and clean, you can post short status updates and longer rants, the flow is as smooth and fast as in Facebook, but the user interface is not always consistent. For example, if you are already using Diaspora, try adding me to one of the "aspects" (groups of contacts) of your friends list (my coordinates above). There is a "Manage aspects" function that you can use to add my handle on any Diaspora pod, but I am quite sure you will not find it easily. Once you do find it, however, the most important and disruptive function of Diaspora IS there, and it even works on occasions! You can add a user on another Diaspora pod. It does not always work, but sometimes it does depending on the configuration of both pods. Once you are connected to users on other pods, you see their activity in almost real time like if they were on the same pod. If the Diaspora network takes off and achieves critical mass, it will be an open, decentralized, distributed P2P social web.

    This is very important. We are already always online via our mobile devices. When I am in a Facebook flow, posting updates, IMing friends and participating in many almost real time group discussions at the same time, sometimes I have a very clear feeling of being plugged in the developing collective mind of our species, a feeling much sharper than in the pre-Facebook Internet, and I wonder how things will continue to develop and where we are going. Someday BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) technology will link our brains to social networks (read Ebocloud to see how this could begin to happen, and please buy it as a DRM-free ebook on Smashwords - we don't kill trees and support DRM, do we).

    We oldies have used social networks only for a small part of our lives, but billions of digital natives born in the 00s will have deep and detailed records of their lives, thoughts, feelings and personalities, on future social networks. According to the Bainbridge-Rothblatt hypotesis which seems more and more plausible in light of recent scientific advances, sufficiently advanced future technologies may be able to ignite these "mindfiles" and bring them back to life.

    So, join the free Diaspora and build YOUR mindfile. You don't want to trust Facebook with your afterlife, do you?

    Mon, Jun 6, 2011  Permanent link

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    {i}Pan~     Mon, Jun 6, 2011  Permanent link
    This is really interesting. I recently deleted my Facebook account, as I grew weary of their centralized policies.

    I hope this see's a lot of support and grows.

    Thanks.
    giulio     Mon, Jun 6, 2011  Permanent link
    At this moment Facebook is much more useful than Diaspora (the main utility is that everybody is there), so I keep using my Facebook account (my posts on joindiaspora.com are piped to my Facebook and Twitter. But give Diaspora one year, and yes let's hope there is a lot of support and growth.
    Wildcat     Tue, Jun 7, 2011  Permanent link
    Hi Giulio,
    yes I agree with you, at this point many of our mutual friends are on (and probably only on) FB, nevertheless, I have also decided to to let go of FB, not least because they will not allow the usage of alternate avatars (same happened with Quora).

    as for the future of Diaspora, I am watching this decentralized option for quite a while and I must say still not fully capable of providing my needs in hyperconnectivity. (besides the fact that somehow it does not recognize me anymore - known bugs?)
    still, following yr suggestions I will try to re-initiate the service and see how it develops.

    Concerning our mindfiles however, I think that notwithstanding the work of M.Rothblatt which does show promise in the long run, in immediacy we are still a long way from a coherent file such as she imagines.

    My own work here in the Polytopia project aims to provide a comprehensive theory and exploration of the implications involved in such state of affairs as having a fully integrated and coherent yet decentralized and open sourced identity management array in hyperconnectivity.

    at present more hope than factualities
    thanks
    giulio     Tue, Jun 7, 2011  Permanent link
    Hi Wildcat - (in the same spirit of my last comment on the Bitcoin thread) I think we need an open, decentralized, distributed P2P social web. Diaspora may or may not be the answer, but sure as hell we need to find one. Diaspora is very alpha, but I think it has potential. Let's see how it develops, and please add me to your Diaspora contact list.

    Concerning mindfiles, I agree on "notwithstanding the work of M.Rothblatt which does show promise in the long run, in immediacy we are still a long way from a coherent file such as she imagines." I think the idea will take off and fly when we will have fast and deep BCI technology, which will take some more time (I think we may see efficient consumer BCI in the 20s). In the meantime, I think Terasem is doing good work to prepare the way.
     
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