I recently got an invite to the private alpha of the joindiaspora site (Thanks Clint!).

Diaspora is a open source, distributed social networking software. The joindiaspora site is an instance that the primary authors of the code are running in order to help them fix issues before publishing a stable release (capacity and otherwise). So, after poking around on it for a few days, a few thoughts:

On the good side:

  • Nice to see that everything is https all the time
  • “Aspects” are cool. It’s basically a grouping of your friends. You can add friends to multiple aspects, create new aspects called whatever you like, etc. Then you can share something with just one or several aspects, or everything. It allows you to narrow things nicely if you want to only send something to close friends or co-workers
  • The facebook connection at least works. I was able to share something to the world and it showed up on my facebook account. There’s a twitter connection as well
  • There is a ‘export all my stuff as xml’ and ‘export all my photos’ function. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work currently, but it’s nice to be able to have the option to move all your data to another ‘seed’ (diaspora instance) and have everything keep working.
  • There’s a checkbox to determine if you show up in searches or not, and one for email when people add comments, etc

And now the downsides:

  • It’s really tedious to try and find anyone you know. You have to manually search for their name or common handles and hope. You can’t see friends of friends to expand your aspects, or have it automatically search all the friends you have on another site, although thats planned.
  • The site is sometimes really really slow, but I guess thats expected as they work on the capacity issues.
  • It seems like progress isn’t all that rapid on the user interface side, but I do see lots of commits going on.
  • My handle there is ‘nirik@joindiaspora.com’ if anyone is looking for me. I think it has promise, but they really need to step on the development and adding users to get it to the point where normal people will use it. 😉