August 25, 2011, 2:40 PM — Remember Diaspora? No, not the forced movement of Jews out of ancient Judea. I’m talking about that geeky alternative to Facebook cooked up over the summer of 2010 by four NYU undergrads.
These guys wanted to create a social network that let you share your thoughts, photos, yadda yadda without, ahem, constantly changing its rules to invade your privacy. (Paging Mark Zuckerberg to a White Discourtesy Telephone.) They chose the name “Diaspora” to represent the migration of unhappy Facebook users to their new site. (Or maybe just because they liked how it sounded after a couple of beers.)
My first impression: Diaspora is so spare it makes Facebook look like a video game. Even Google Plus is gaudy by comparison. If anything, Disapora looks more like a G+ clone – or rather, vice versa. Given that G+ emerged some seven months after Diaspora went public, I’m guessing Google was taking notes.
The most notable feature of Diaspora is its “Aspects,” which is essentially identical to Google’s “Circles” or Facebook’s “Lists” – a way to filter your friends, family, and work associates into neat little piles so you can choose what you share with each.
You start out with Family, Friends, Work, Acquaintances, then can add your own from there. One difference between Diaspora and G+ is that you can make your Aspects public (so if you add someone to the “Total @holes” Aspect, better first uncheck that little box that makes your list visible).