Everyone loves an underdog. Just ask the four NYU students behind Diaspora, and the 6,479 people who believed in their quest to build an open-source, privacy-conscious alternative to Facebook.
But the extra money and attention created a huge amount of pressure on the team, and we’ve quietly been rooting for them as they worked hard to deliver on their promises to backers by summer’s end.
Last week, to the surprise of many skeptics, Diaspora released its source code to the public right on schedule. This first release, while very early in its development, was a huge milestone.
Since then, it’s broken into open-source host Github’s top 10 most popular projects, with hundreds of developers forking the source code to collaborate on making it better.
The project’s still in its infancy, but it’s a powerful example of collective action at work — from funding and promotion to development and adoption.
The Diaspora team, seconds after releasing their code. Photo by Henrik Moltke.
We talk a lot about “stories” around here, for good reason. The projects that do the best are the ones that people can connect with.
The Diaspora team had a great story: four passionate students fresh out of college, trying to take down Facebook on a very short timeline. And they were doing it as a free, community-driven, open-source project.
Their story moved us, as it did for the media and thousands of supporters, including Mark Zuckerberg himself. ”I see a little of myself in them,” Zuckerberg told Wired. “It’s just their approach that the world could be better and saying, ‘We should try to do it.’”