Why Diaspora project could work

by Laurent François

Citizens! I had a conversation this week around net neutrality and some French entrepreneurs around the table did not believe at all that Diaspora could defeat the “big” Facebook. Well, big, if you think twice, you can easily remember it’s a younger network than my own studies period, so as “evidences of relevance” are not so…evident.

Moreoever, I like the MySpace example and the Facebook one. In the early ages of Facebook, no one could think there’d be a massive translation from a network to another. It was in a sense pretty easy in the MySpace to Facebook in France, as MySpace was mostly perceived as an entertainment platform for us against a “friend management system” for Facebook. Different usages, so as a market gap that was filled. Something absolutely different in the US where MySpace was an interpersonal network, a true Social Network on your whole life. And it finally happened: people moved to Facebook, or added Facebook to their digital identity. And Facebook & MySpace can now be synchronized.

For Diaspora, the challenge is big: be able to mobilize general public to move to is platform, against the Facebook one. Something complicated as every mobile device providers pre-install Facebook or Twitter.

But.

There’s been a wide PR coverage about new Facebook competitor. Every single news magazine diffused interviews, opinions, articles, about this new player. There’s been a great mobilization online, from diverse communities: the founders are not just “geek” people, they’re also like us: citizens, fed up with Facebook Califorinia laws. Fed up with this Teddy Boy called Mark Zuckerberg who wants to control our social graph.

There’s obviously an explicit expectation. And when it comes to social networks, explicit networks play a great role. For instance, if Viadeo, the French professional network, worked so well, it’s because during the summer of its launch, the salesmen & founders called their C+ friends to join the platform. For explicit reasons. They transferred their whole address books. Then they added or made implicit networks play the prescription mechanism on its own. On a daily basis, anytime I meet an interesting professional contact, based on my experience, I can decide to explicitely add someone.

On Diaspora, there’s both an explicit reason to join, and an implicit mechanism which can lead to a massive interest from the general public.

  • there’s been an engagement program towards the traditional Key opinion leaders & towards disruptive ones like bloggers
  • there’s a clear value proposition: a Facebook without Facebook Manichean attitude
  • there’s a tricky tactics: not directly opposing Facebook to Diaspora (either join us either leave us) but progressively demonstrating why it’d be better

There are strong business opportunities for developers to join Diaspora model, as Diaspora released today its source:

  • you can be freed from Apple or Facebook constraints
  • you can also get enough audience to make your great service worth
  • you can go directly to your relevant public
  • you can avoid legal issues therefore money waste on privacy questions

For me, as a citizen-consumer, I see many interests:

  • I don’t lose my social capital if I move to Diaspora
  • I can probably get great applications & services, and to be fair, I don’t give a shit if it’s on Facebook or else, if it works on my smartphone and if I can get access to all the resources I need
  • It’s a manifesto for a more fair market. And I like fair & true view principles

Maybe I’m too Android-minded. Maybe.

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8 Comments to “Why Diaspora project could work”

  1. I would say, “why diaspora project could kill facebook”. Diaspora is a part of the solution, because they have chosen create the first alternative of social media on the web. Usually, on the web, the hackers are always the firsts to create something of moneyable. Just remember, napster, winMX… now you have Apple Store and tomorow Google Music. When I started on Internet, most of chatters were hackers or at least guys interested in hacking…
    For social media, that’s the companies who have created it at first and that’s the point.
    Diaspora is a solution with a lack of consideration for the lambda user. If you really want control what you publish on it, you have to install it and that won’t be easy. Even if it will become easy, you will have to keep your computer power on to keep your profile online. There are many others issues and many are going to be solved but still.
    Nevertheless, Diaspora is the murderer of facebook. The develloper community is now awake, thanks to 4 americans guys who know well how to sell something.
    Finally, thank you for this free advertisment for the Open Source Social Media and thank you Diaspora guys.

    The revolution has started.

  2. @Mathieu thanks for your update, it’s gonna be interesting to see if an economic model can defeat a new one in Social Media

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