Diaspora* is Back in Action
The past few weeks have been pretty crazy for us here at Diaspora*. It is unbelievably painful to lose such a close friend and collaborator as Ilya, and we want to thank our countless community members, friends, family, and professional contacts for all of your support as we try to take care of ourselves and plot a course for Diaspora*’s future. We are forever grateful to the amazing community of people who have stepped up to help us get things back in order.
Of course, the next logical question is, “where do we go from here?” After long discussions with each other, people close to us, and members of the Diaspora* community, we have come up with a plan to get our beta out the door by early 2012.
In preparation for the beta release, we are focusing on three main areas the next few months:
1) Focus on our priorities with the help of our engaged community.
We have a tight schedule to meet, and want to get the most done we possibly can, so we need to prioritize our tasks in order to make Diaspora* as awesome as possible. Given our limited time, we have had to to make tough decisions as to what are the top priority issues.
Many of our community members have stepped up to help us out and focus on these priorities:
- Dennis Collinson, Mike Sofaer, and Sarah Mei have been continually speeding up and cleaning up the code-base.
- TH and David Kettler have been conducting usability testing and meetings at Noisebridge, and helping us distill the issues that arise to actionable steps.
- David Morley (maintainer of Diasp.org) has been staying on top of the mailing list answering people’s questions.
- Countless other community members have stepped it up, such as Pistos, gzruy, mrZYX, RichardTE and D_Group, submitting tons of pull requests, updating our wiki, and making Diaspora* more developer-friendly.
We want to thank these people directly. We could not do it without them. They inspire us to continue, and are important part of the development of Diaspora*. Which brings us to our next important step…
2) Expand our team and community.
Currently Diaspora* Inc. consists of Daniel and Maxwell as full-time team members, plus Raphael and our former NYU advisor Evan Korth on our board. We are incorporated as a for-profit C corporation, and we are a mission-driven company first and foremost – more on that below. We have been working on Diaspora* full time since of June 2010, and have found ways to forego stipends or salaries since July 2011. We will continue to work on Diaspora full time while we find additional funding. Since July, we have used donation funds only to pay for JoinDiaspora.com, other community resources, and to pay Peter Schurman for his help with communication and fundraising. Peter has also contributed invaluable time and energy helping us think through our next steps. We currently have funds on hand which we are going to use to ramp up to the beta launch, improve community communication, and improve the on-boarding process and feedback loop for Open Source developers.
Over the coming months, team expansion is one of our top priorities. We are currently looking for interns, and will be hiring full time developers and a community manager next. Interested in working with us? Check out our internship postings, or email us at email@example.com.
On the community side, we’ll be organizing a series of hack days over the next couple of months, so please sign up via our meetup page to get notified about events in your area. The first of the series will take place on Sunday, December 11 in SF. We would love to see you and hack some cool Diaspora* stuff for the day, and this would be great way to get to know us if you’re interested in joining our team.
And you don’t need to be a coder to get involved in our community. There are lots of ways to contribute, from translation to evangelism to designing to hosting a pod. Want to join the movement? Here’s how you can get involved.
3) Become a sustainable organization.
We are lucky to be able to work on Free and Open Source Software full time. The fact that we have been able to do this so far only through funds raised via donation is a powerful statement. It has allowed us to focus on laying the groundwork for an open and free social web.
Looking forward, however, if we are to engage more people to fully commit to Diaspora* and compensate them for their contributions, something we see as a requirement to make Diaspora* a success, we need to expand our sources of funding. We are working on ways to generate additional funds to give us the bandwidth to hire more developers, further engage the community, and match the rapid development of closed networks. We will keep the community posted as this process evolves.
We can assure you that any funding solution we go for will never betray the trust you have placed with us, and our ongoing vision of privacy, openness, and ownership of your data. This vision is why we started building Diaspora*, and it is still our number one commitment.
Diaspora*’s mission as a company is to build tools to help people get control of their data and do fun things with it online. It’s about giving users ownership and control over what they share, and creating amazing things. It’s about promoting Diaspora* open source software to everyone, because we think this is the right thing to do. A new social web model where users are not the product, but willful participants who are creating new modes of communication. This was our vision when we launched our Kickstarter campaign in April 2010, and it remains our vision today.
Maxwell and Daniel
December 7, 2011