How We Are
Last week we told you what we’ve been up to in the office and gave you an idea of where we’re heading, but we thought it would be useful to revisit why we started Diaspora*, and how that vision is shaping our future.
Quoting something we wrote almost two years ago (sorry for being meta)…
When you have a Diaspora* seed of your own, you own your social graph, you have access to your information however you want, whenever you want, and you have full control of your online identity. Once we have built a solid foundation, we will make Diaspora* easy to extend to facilitate any type of communication, and the possibilities will be endless.”
This has been our core goal since day one. Certain strategies have changed, ideas have been refined as we have built things and better understood the problem at hand, but our core values remain resolute—build awesome Free Software to enable decentralised social communication that gives users ownership and control over their creations.
Since we started Diaspora*, everything we have made has been released as Free Software. This has ensured that no one else encroaches on our vision, and that freedom of the users is protected from everyone (possibly including us). Every good test, bad test, typo, mistake, stroke of genius, and crazy experiment is on the web for everyone to see, and for everyone to take that idea and make it of what they will. It was important to the four founders when we started and it still is today. This means that the code is always Free for someone to take our ideas, good or bad, and continue to put effort into something we might have overlooked. It allows the people who want to put the elbow grease into something we are not currently fussing over to make it their own. This is the democratic freedom of Free Software, and it is what makes the whole movement so essential. We are very proud of this fact. We are also very lucky. Not many programmers get the chance to say that about years of work they have done. The reason we are happy we get to make Free Software is because ideas are dime a dozen.The only way you can see whether your idea is actually good or not is release it to the world and see how it fares. More ideas are good, but ideas that you can test are better. Just because it is out in the wild does not mean it is finished. For every commit that we have pushed into the main codebase, we have had some code that we have decided to walk away from. Good execution is rarely a linear, straightforward process, but it starts with making ideas real.
“The tagline for the founding of Ubuntu was “Linux for Human Beings”…it said that the average human being is more important to us than those who Linux has served in the past; those are the values that attracted the people who actually build Ubuntu – all of it, from Unity through the server release and Kubuntu and Edubuntu. You are welcome in this community, but not welcome to redefine its mission to suit your needs.”
- Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Inc. and Ubuntu project
While everyone is free to modify the software to their liking, the vision of Diaspora* is driven by the people who started it. The vast majority of Free Software projects have an entity that shepherds and maintains the vision for the project, and Diaspora* is no different.
At the same time, we gladly accept people who share our vision and want to help us out. We give liberal commit access to people who put in the work to get their code into our master branch. We go out of our way to help people learn how to contribute. In fact, in the past four months, we have integrated over 69% of community submissions to the master branch(1). At the same time, there is no guarantee that every feature request or even code submission will be pulled in. It is important to not take this personally; Diaspora* is our baby, and we are unabashedly opinionated.
The code we have today, while it’s an awesome start, is only the beginning. We need to make sure that the issues we are discussing are actually helping us achieve our end-goal. Is Diaspora* a system that will work as my personal identity hub? Is this something my non-technical friends want to use? Does it make me excited to show who I am to the world, and make me proud to say these are the things I created? Does it empower me to share how I want to? Keeping it to just being a technical community for ourselves is ultimately a selfish, self-serving endeavor. We look at what we have built to-date and see the kernel of what Diaspora will be, rather than a static, complete “product” ready to be released to the world. In the past few months, we have been working hard to conceptualize how Diaspora* is going to win, and we are excited to share it with you in more detail later this week.
Assuming Diaspora* is just a Free Software social-networking clone is selling the “big idea” of Diaspora* short. This is not what we are aiming to build. We are building something focused on redefining identity, autonomy and ownership online. We built Diaspora* with the features it has today to help us see the horizon ahead. Now it is time for us to double down and get there.
We are shooting for something so much bigger, so let’s not sweat the small stuff.
Thanks for reading,
Dennis, Rosanna, Sarah, Sean, Kayla, Daniel, and Maxwell
PS. Stay tuned for more about our vision in a blog post later this week.
EDIT: Whats up with federation blog post is here
(1) Upcoming report from Sean about pull requests and community involvement coming soon.