When Facebook users started getting nervous about the social networking company&aposs privacy missteps, the open source community did what it does best — stepped up to build a better platform based on transparency and open source tools. Four college students from New York whipped together the Diaspora project, launched it publicly on April 24th, and promptly found themselves sitting on $10,000 in donations in just 12 days.
When the FOSS community rallies behind an idea, it doesn&apost mess around. Indeed, seed money for the Diaspora project jumped to more than $24,000 in a matter of weeks (the developers say they&aposre not looking for further donations at this time). Although part of the Diaspora team&aposs initial success was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time, it also speaks to how quickly the open source community comes together over projects that meet an immediate social need. Businesses and developers alike, take note: the next time you&aposre brainstorming your Next Big Idea, consider what the FOSS community might bring to the table when you need an "all hands on deck" development approach.
There&aposs a slight irony in seeing a community whose very foundation is based on open data sharing come together around a project that&aposs based, in part, on trying to protect the privacy of its users. Perhaps that&aposs why the Diaspora project has the potential to be so successful, however. Created primarily in Ruby, the source code will be available this fall so "anybody will be able to write a plugin to use Diaspora to manage permissions and notifications for any kind of content"
The fundamental issue Facebook users are dealing with is a complete lockout from their personal and private data — any content you provide Facebook is theirs to do with as they wish. Diaspora returns total control to the user by putting them back in charge of their own data. While Facebook has been busy playing cat-and-mouse with its user base, the open source community has started building a better mousetrap.