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Is Diaspora the Future of Free Software Funding?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the better-than-nothing dept.

Social Networks 146

Glyn Moody writes "Diaspora, the free software project to create a distributed version of Facebook, has been much in the news recently — not least because it has raised $170,000 in just a few weeks. But what's also interesting is the way they've raised that money: through a series of graded rewards for pledges of financial support. This is an approach adopted by some forward-thinking musicians: for example, Jill Sobule funded her last album in the same way, garnering $75,000 in pledges from fans. Is this a model that could be applied to other free software projects, or is it just a one-off?"

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Pledges eh? (2, Interesting)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237298)

Every time they say pledges of financial support, i wonder how many people actually follow through and pay.

Re:Pledges eh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237380)

You need to have a look at kickstart (the pledge funding/rewards system) then.
You actually have to put the funds on hold to make an actual pledge.

If the thing goes ahead, your funds get taken and delivered to the group you're supporting.

Re:Pledges eh? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239052)

I have thought of a system like this before, although with a commercial POV.

The idea of the web site my I built (not public) is to allow "intellectual property" creators to offer their work for a specific amount of money and then, when such amount is raised (I considered of the "chip-in" service) the author publishes his work, gets paid said amount and anyone can get the work for free.

In this way, I.P. creators can work on whatever they want and charge an amount of money that they think is equivalent to the value of the time they spent on it. Once they get paid what they think their work is worth they should not care how/if their content is distributed.

It might be possible to let the creators choose the license in which they choose to release the creation. Some people might even release their works in Open licenses (GPL, CC, BSD, etc). Other might choose to release the "binaries" (PDF, exe, mp3, etc) of their creations for a certain amount, and the "source-code" (LaTeX, DOC, .cpp, .wav) for another amount.

Authors may even be able to publish some "teaser" content (one chapter of the book, samples of a song, a reduced functionality version [with *only* the stuff they want to give for free! no cracks possible]) to increase the demand from their products.

In my opinion that will be the future of distribution/creation of intellectual creations. And from what I know, this is not so far from how it was long ago, when people used to write operas, plays and orchesta scores after being hired by some wealthy individual.

"Prior Art" (3, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237320)

How is this different from the model used for NPR pledge drives? Its just another thing you can get for free, but that if you feel has value to you, you can/should help fund so it doesn't go away... and you get prizes at various levels of contribution. It's been working since the 70s for NPR, it should work here, too, assuming the people involved in using the software aren't the same people who don't contribute to their local NPR/PBS station.

Re:"Prior Art" (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237444)

How is this different from the model used for NPR pledge drives?

The key difference seems to be that you are paying for something specific to this project. In NPR, you're paying for some future costs of running it but also by and large shows that are already filmed and done. You're helping keep the access up and running. In Diaspora and Sobule's cases, you're paying for the coming work. You're really funding the creation of this project. Both are pledges for the future but in this case you are instrumental in creation, not accessing what's already created. I suppose locally produced shows may enjoy your money but you're not attached solely to that project when you contribute. And you're often rewarded with non-personal items. A duffel bag? A coffee mug? An old DVD of WWII? Old crap they have laying around? Red Green signatures? (Note: I would actually enjoy the Red Green signature)

Diaspora has to ship 4,241 CDs, 3,267 bunches of "cool disaspora stickers", 2,488 t-shirts and then all the hosting and phone support in the remaining groups which isn't anything to sneeze at either. It's all personalized to the Diaspora project and you're a part of that project now.

That's my interpretation anyway.

Re:"Prior Art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237754)

There are not too many shows on National Public Radio which are filmed.

Re:"Prior Art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238248)

You are trying to make it appear different from the NPR/PBS funding...possibly because of the boner you have for free software.

But this model is not new, contrary to what 19 year old computer nerds think.

Re:"Prior Art" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239068)

What exactly is the big difference between a Diaspora t-shirt and an All Things Considered coffee mug? Except, of course, for the carrying capacity, etc. I'm just pointing out that most of the gifts I heard of in the last NPR pledge drive are just as personalized as the Diaspora items.

Also, I think of then NPR pledge drive as something for the future, but with more of a confirmed history. I recall one show going off the air during the recession; perhaps there were more. People who pledged ahead of time may have lost their reason for their contribution. I think both pledges are a gamble to a degree.

Re:"Prior Art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238638)

The key difference is that Kickstarter enables actual pledges--what economists would call assurance contracts [wikipedia.org] or provision point mechanisms. There is a thresold amount which needs to be raised by a certain date, and nobody is actually billed unless the amount is reached. This addresses the free-riding problem fairly effectively, since no-one incurs the risk of funding something which will never get started.

Re:"Prior Art" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239634)

" for example, Jill Sobule funded her last album in the same way, garnering $75,000 in pledges from fans."

Why would anybody need FUNDING to write an album? Hasn't she got a computer already, with a soundcard? Am I missing something here?

Re:"Prior Art" (2, Informative)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239906)

Studio time, sound engineers, money to live off of while you actually write the songs. These are things that come to mind.

Re:"Prior Art" (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32240116)

I personally have prior art. I came up with something like Diasproa at least five years ago. Except that I had a concept where those ideas were only a small part of a bigger concept encompassing everything from ebay over file-sharing, instant messaging, chat, forums, MMO base software, browsers, online communities, etc, etc, etc. Right now I have a design for a whole OS based on the concepts in my drawer. Replacing all things communication that exist. (And in case of the OS also all things storage.) No exceptions. Including usage as a replacement for a government. Yes that’s right. A whole government.
So really it’s an old had. And I am deliberately not saying “invented”, because I was mostly building on the ideas that already existed. (As everyone usually does.)

Re:"Prior Art" (1)

techhead79 (1517299) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241782)

If you don't have the skills or time to build it yourself you should release your information under a creative commons license. No point in it collecting dust in your drawer if it never gets implimented or has a chance to be.

This project is fundamental... (2, Insightful)

alexandre (53) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237362)

This project (and others like it*) has to succeed, we need something that makes the net lean toward P2P as an organisational structure.

Without these types of fights the net is in the long term going to suffer a lot from corporate control and stifle people's ability to start new ventures.

* http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Group:GNU_Social/Project_Comparison [fsf.org]

Re:This project is fundamental... (1)

Rallias Ubernerd (1760460) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237404)

Thats why i am currently building a P2P web forum software. Like something like ZetaBoards, but you can have it host anywere. Convient, i know.

Got code? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237414)

I'll get excited about Diaspora when they actually start putting out code...

Re:Got code? (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238342)

YES! why is this marked troll? I see no code on their github pages and i must ASSUME that its going to be run on ruby on rails because of all the HTML textile stuff. Thats a vague assumption also.

Re:Got code? (3, Insightful)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239120)

It will be fun to see after the guys get their "first version" running and see all the "real world" issues they will get. IIRC Friendster got canned due to scalability issues.

IMHO the Diaspora guys have a "good idea", but it is still to be implemented. However I have seen a *lot* of people with lots of good ideas for software, unfortunately the implementation is what counts.

Best of luck to them anyhow.

Don't forget Blender (3, Informative)

MikeV (7307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237432)

IIRC, it's source code was purchased from the license holders and made open-source thanks to this same sort of thing.

Re:Don't forget Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238924)

its*

Re:Don't forget Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239386)

IIRC, it's source code

its

major problem with social netwrk wannabees (4, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237466)

In general people only are interested in joining the most popular network sites where their friends are also joining. So this means there can only be one or two leaders and a tremendous amount of inertia to change. Giants like MicroSoft and Google tried and failed several times. So reading articles like these are much like reading the weekly "next dethroning of Moore's law" articles: usually the first and last and last time they'll make the news.

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (1)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238520)

Exactly. Facebook has worked so well in part because it forces people to be less anonymous. You are prompted to use your real name and put in factual data about yourself, and when you becomes friends with other people it connects you via all of their other tools. So yes, you could become friends with people from high school you don't know, but your pictures will be with your actual friends, which really is showing that, in private, you hang out with certain people.

I don't see how a factual representation of the self is necessarily bad, though. Yes yes, there's the whole "if you're not breaking the law, why are you afraid of the law" argument, but Facebook does let you lock down your profile pretty well nowadays. The latest privacy hubbub is about how Facebook is linking into other sites like CNN.

MySpace was always a bad model for social networking as it was little more than GeoCities templates with a friend feature. Facebook is actually social networking. But like IM protocols, how many do you need? Sure there's going to be some people who really care about anonymity and prefer something like Diaspora (or ICQ). But the idea of " social network" and privacy/anonymity seems kind of at odds, doesn't it?

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239620)

I don't see how a factual representation of the self is necessarily bad, though. Yes yes, there's the whole "if you're not breaking the law, why are you afraid of the law" argument, but Facebook does let you lock down your profile pretty well this week.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32240408)

But the idea of " social network" and privacy/anonymity seems kind of at odds, doesn't it?

No, not at all. I want to socialize with my friends and acquaintances and possibly their friends as well, not Mark Zuckerberg. What is so strange about that?

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241404)

Facebook does let you lock down your profile pretty well nowadays.

One thing to note is that regardless of however hidden your information is from random visitors to the website...

Your information is still laid entirely bare to a for-profit organization with a history of privacy abuses run by a right-winger with ties to government intelligence. It's called Facebook.

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (4, Insightful)

nloop (665733) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238568)

kind of like this [slashdot.org] story about the 800 lbs gorilla of myspace and a smaller wannabee... facebook. Friendster begat MySpace begat Facebook begat someone new. Sure, I agree it won't be Diaspora because they have a terrible name and haven't even started writing code yet, but there is no such thing as too big to fail on the interwebs.

People never thought Yahoo could be displaced in the search engine market in the late 90s either.

Jewish diaspora (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239792)

Sure, I agree it won't be Diaspora because they have a terrible name

It might become popular with Jews out of Israel [wikipedia.org].

Re:Jewish diaspora (3, Informative)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 3 years ago | (#32240564)

Glad someone brought this up already. Yes, diaspora primarily refers to the Jewish dispersal across the globe as a result of the Roman occupation and destruction of the Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel. Diaspora literally means dispersion, and while it can refer to dispersals of other groups of people, the primary denotation of the term refers to the exile of the Jewish people. If others want to contest that, check out the definitions on m-w.com.

Why the project creators used this term for distributed funding of software and other projects is somewhat beyond me. They want to use an unconventional term for dispersal, but diaspora has a unique meaning and isn't really a term with a positive connotation.

Re:major problem with social netwrk wannabees (1)

pankajmay (1559865) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241006)

Yeah but that probably applies to people who do not read /. Frankly speaking - I will gladly welcome a social network where I don't have to deal with the same annoying bunch that go as my friends. If I have to look at another lol cat, weird bollywood dances, or request for some vegetable/animal/food/fodder/poke over an online connection.... it is all getting old. Facebook used to be fun. Now its just tiring.

Facebook will be the perfect advert for Diaspora (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242116)

1. It's perfect target market.
2. Word spreads like wildfire.
3. Every time £uckerberg screws us over, someone will tell them how great Diaspora is.

Other Projects (5, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237472)

I realize that this article isn't really about diaspora itself, but I feel it's an obligation to point out that there are other, more promising and further along (nearly finished), projects out there, such as Appleseed [sourceforge.net], that have the same goal, and aren't being run by people with almost no experience.

Re:Other Projects (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238384)

To be fair, the Diaspora guys are now fully experienced and demonstrably successful at their core competency: marketing vapourware.

I'm not advocating Diaspora, but... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239470)

I don't know that I would advocate Appleseed either. They've been at a standstill for 2 years, and that's according to their own website timeline. If you go back further in their timeline, their progress has been quite slow.

Re:I'm not advocating Diaspora, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32240146)

That's one of the things that turned me off initially as well, but the developer now seems to be motivated to get it finished. He's trying to get funds together (to live on, I assume) so that he can work on it full time. It's actually very far along, and all that's left is (a lot of) polishing.

Re:I'm not advocating Diaspora, but... (3, Informative)

dominion (3153) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241794)

It was actually more like one year, although I was silently committing to the svn without doing much promotion for the year before that. We just couldn't get momentum going, so at some point, jobs and personal lives took over.

This time around, it's different, though. I have to thank the Diaspora* folks, even if they don't end up coding anything, they've really gotten people to start thinking about open source, distributed social networking. And that's a positive for everyone.

We're trying to raise money the same way Diaspora* did, using a similar website. I don't expect to get as much as they did, but I think it's definitely possible to meet the goal.

http://indiegogo.com/The-Appleseed-Project [indiegogo.com]

For small projects (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237480)

I think for small projects with a existing fan/userbase this works well, and is really not new. I recall 20 years ago a local brother/sister rock duo sold t-shirts to raise money to make CDs. Chris Chandler, a folk singer, offered producer credit on his latest album in exchange for a smallish donation. I think the general populous is often willing to give money for small projects.

The problem comes in when the project get very successful and starts needed professional management. Now people are not paying to directly create product, but for support and management services. I may be willing to donate $20 so that some coder buy food while writing a device driver, or some artist can rent studio space to record and album, but I am willing to donate that money for an administrative assistant? I don't know.

this is the part that blew my mind: (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237484)

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/05/facebook-open-alternative/ [wired.com]

That's the equivalent of a significant angel round of funding in the internet startup world, and their fundraising on the Kickstarter crowdsourced funding site has another 19 days to go.
It's also an impressive for a project proposal from four students who say they aren't going to start coding until they graduate from college this summer. And a testament to how strongly that a growing number of people want an alternative to a centralized and dominant social networking site.

they haven't started programming it!

"hey, i got a cool idea, wanna give me $115K?

holy the awesome power of media coverage batman

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (5, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237548)

Indeed. I don't understand why people keep giving them money. Give your money to a project that has actually been started (and actually close to being finished), like appleseed - http://appleseed.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] .

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238212)

Hi there, Appleseed fanboy. Shut the fuck up. Thanks.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238348)

You don't find the constant mention of diaspora a bit more annoying than someone twice mentioning an alternative? Let me guess... are you one of the diaspora developers?

no, he's an anonymous coward (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238746)

he regurgitates mindless negativity. it is your job to ignore him and not respond to him, at your own detriment of being trolled and caught up in the same mindless negativity that fills the anonymous coward's mind

think of an anonymous coward posting the same thing as walking by a schizophrenic homeless person that smells of fungus: "there but for the grace of god go i": what the contents of your thoughts would be like if you let the empty cynicism and negative pessimism, that occur to all of us from time to time, actually win all the battles in your mind

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238886)

Or kickstarter staff, because they get 5% [kickstarter.com] so it's in their best interest to keep their cash cow Diaspora golden.

But all is not well in the Kickstarter camp as you can see from the Kickstarter Sucks page [amplicate.com]: "Thanks for taking the time to share your idea. We look for projects that have a well-developed, creative focus. We wish you the best of luck, but this isn’t right for Kickstarter. Thanks again for writing and good luck!

Best,
Cindy"


whole story available here [wordpress.com]. I understand their need to be selective, but I don't see Diaspora to be any more developed or creative than that site.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239364)

I donated because I like the idea, I like their attitude about it and I had never heard of the alternatives before I heard about them.

Maybe they were just in the right place at the right time, but it is what it is. And no, I am not going to donate to the alternative you mentioned. A one man operation doesn't interest me as much as a team of four.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239518)

A team of 4 people who are currently college students with about zero experience. Two are graduating, and the other two are doing internships, so it's really a team of 2. One guy is in charge of appleseed, yes, but he's open for contributions, and he's already proven that he's capable (it already works, and is already installed on many nodes). I'll take one experienced programmer over 4 egotistical college students any day.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#32240212)

I looked at what's there already, and I'm not terribly impressed. For example, and this is terribly superficial, but your tarball expands into the directory you untar it in, not into it's own subdirectory like every other project that uses a tarball.

I like a lot of the writing about how a distributed social networking thing should be constructed and the analysis of potential problems and things. I don't see a lot of acknowledgement of the things in the area that have already been done. No mention of OpenID for example.

Yes, not terribly impressed. *sigh*

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32240714)

The developer is aware of the tarball issue (and I believe it isn't even the most current version of the software). The SVN repo works wonderfully.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

dominion (3153) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241994)

As the poster above stated, I am aware of that issue. Also, the latest tarball is VERY out-of-date. For the past couple years, I've been committing to svn (which is open to the public for checkouts at svn.appleseedproject.org) instead of creating distribution packages.

I'm working on getting an up-to-date tarball package out within the next few days (tonight if I have the time). In the meantime, if you'd like to try it out, you can send an email to invite@appleseedproject.org to get an invite code, so you can test out the beta site:

http://appleseedproject.org/ [appleseedproject.org]

I will write the next Facebook (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237948)

I will write Facebook's replacement. Really. I mean it. I will. Please send me money.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

MikeyO (99577) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238026)

they haven't started programming it!

From their Project page [joindiaspora.com]:

We already have a rudimentary prototype of Diaspora running on our machines.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238294)

Oh my gosh... Did you watch that video? They really have no idea what they're doing. "Why us? -- because we want to."

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238592)

Well, I certainly think that they will have to follow through now that media coverage has brought them hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it's not going to be vaporware. On the other hand, I've met a couple people who swear they have had a Duke Nukem Forever prototype that was running on their machine for months.

What I don't understand is why everyone was so encouraged to contribute to this project despite the complete lack of experience of its creators and complete lack of a substantive evidence that they are decent programmers on top of the the complete availability of other, similar, more fully conceived projects. These guys are doing everything backwards. At least with that folk musician she already proved she was capable of writing good music on account of having written it before. And while I don't completely doubt these guys' ability to follow through, I do doubt their ability to follow through well. I doubt the wisdom of handing thousands, er, hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who haven't produced squat

If they have and I just missed it, let me know.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (2, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238988)

And dude, they'll totally get around to open sourcing that real soon now, 'cause, man, they're all about the open source and shit, so just get all out of their faces and chill, bro.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238532)

Yup, first thing I thought of when I read about this was: which one of these guys has an friend or relative who's an editor? It's not what you know, it's where you can market yourself that counts.

I can't wait until one of them swipes all the money and runs, and the others turn into bitter hollow shells, with nothing better to do than report the winner to the FBI.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238588)

Mod parent up. When I originally read the article about Diaspora in the NYT, all I could think was "hey, cool idea, but this is BEYOND vaporware." I worry that with all the press it's getting, if it comes out and totally sucks (which is more likely than not), it will just strengthen Facebook's position.

Or worse, confirming vaporware... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239956)

They could, after some months, come back and publicly say "Even with all your contributions, we couldn't write something that could in good conscience be released to the public" and walk away with the money.

They may still be forced to show what code they could produce (and it could very well be a small amount), but that wouldn't stop them from just walking away.

Other than "hey, once we finish studies, we'll right on that", there's absolutely no timeline.

Re:this is the part that blew my mind: (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239264)

Your post is misleading at best. They only asked for $10,000 to fund them through the summer so they could dedicate themselves to this project and not have to find paid work. $10,000 for 4 people to last them several months really isn't that much money.

The fact that they have gotten such a huge response has caused them to rethink their original plan of just a few months, produce something working and be happy. It would seem they are raising the bar exactly because of the huge response.

Yes, this is the power of media coverage. Perhaps they really were in the right place at the right time. Maybe they did get really lucky while the similar projects that have been around for a while are just unlucky.

Whatever the case may be, your characterization is patently wrong. They had their sights set low on the donation front.

And as far as not having code yet . . . I think I read somewhere they have a very very rough prototype that is nowhere near ready for release yet. But even still, they are asking for people to fund them. Not "hey, we made this. please donate for all our cool work."

Doing it this way is actually quite better IMO. You can see what kind of support there is for your idea long before you pour in the blood sweat and tears.

Until someone thinks "free money", ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237572)

...takes the money and doesn't deliver on the project. There may be a business opportunity for escrow services, but expectations can be hard to formalize and people will feel cheated at some point, escrow or not. There are a lot of people who don't donate to charities because they've realized how much of their money goes into the bureaucracy.

Opera Unite (3, Interesting)

Zoidbot (1194453) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237638)

Diaspora is just a poor mans Opera Unite from what I can tell.

Surely Opera own patents on this?

To answer your question (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237652)

Is this a model that could be applied to other free software projects, or is it just a one-off?

It's just a one-off. Next!

Kickstarter & Ted Rall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237706)

Unfortunately they fail to mention a far more visible figure that recently used Kickstarter successfully. Ted Rall has received enough public sponsorship to engage in another trip to Central Asia & Afghanistan, where he’s previously travelled and written about in several works, and on his syndicated column & comic strip.

Also see the discussion (1)

crosbie (446285) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237764)

Also see the discussion at http://bit.ly/dtsT44 [bit.ly] which touches on Diaspora ($100k+) and Humble Indie Bundle ($1m+) as examples of the future business model for the exchange of intellectual work and the money of the multitudes who want it produced.

Not if it is something totally new (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237808)

This kinda thing only works when, like this, it is based on an existing product with wide appeal, and also has a lot of people looking for an alternative. Sure, that could fit a few apps but not every one. It's just like when big bands like Radiohead or others do a "pay what you want" for a new release and everyone praises it and claims it to be the wave of the future... go ahead and try that *before* you are mega-stars or not in some mainstream or popular genre... all 8 people that pay will totally make it worthwhile. Indie software, etc. all follows this same pattern.

It will never work for the vast majority of projects.

Re:Not if it is something totally new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238254)

The funny thing is that it's not an existing project... they haven't even started coding anything yet.

What you mean to say the only way this model can work is if you have widespread media coverage.

Diaspora (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237816)

Diaspora is another word for jews. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they don't fund anything unless there's a chance of profit already.

How this works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32237840)

This can work but only for specific kinds of projects. For example musicians that use it already have a significant following and tap them to make the donation. Diaspora got a good result from it because they're providing an alternative to a megalithic corporation that nobody really likes and received a lot of media coverage.

However, I doubt you'll end up with this kind of result a piece of proposed software that 1) isn't sexy, 2) doesn't have a wide user appeal, and 3) doesn't receive a lot of media coverage

Why? (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#32237918)

No, it won't work. There are enough people out there who will say "Why does this non-existent software company need my money?". This is pretty silly.

1. Why does anybody need hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop software? You're using a computer right now as you read it. Start coding. What's the money thing all about?

2. These people haven't gotten together as a group (that I'm aware of or have ever heard of) and done anything together. Why would I throw money at an unproven group(?) of people?

3. If an idea is good enough, people will expect to make money on a project and want to invest on their own. This guy wants to get free of Facebook control by writing an aggregator that collects Facebook data? This is truly moronic.

Good free, open source software is generally written by a brilliant person or group of people who do it because they can and they want to. Proprietary software will be backed by people expecting to make some kind of return on their investment. This is some horrible mash-up of those two ideas that nobody has managed to think through.

Re:Why? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238556)

1. Why does anybody need hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop software? You're using a computer right now as you read it. Start coding. What's the money thing all about?

Quality software takes time. Some people like being able to afford food, rent, and the overhead (however minimal) that it will cost to develop this concept. Keep in mind that if they raise $200K, that's still only $50K per developer assuming development only takes 1 year. And they'll have to make stickers, t-shirts, CDs, and so on and mail those out to people. As the majority gave at the $25 level (which includes a CD and t-shirt) at least half of that money is going into manufacturing, handling, and shipping the goods. That drops the per-developer take significantly.

Your other points are quite valid.

Where's the CODE? (2, Interesting)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238140)

They got all this cash and... is there a code repository or something?

Re:Where's the CODE? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239938)

Supposedly, there will be. I'm a 'backer', but I fully realize I may well have tossed away my $50. It was worth it to me because these people look like they have a clue and this is been something I've been wanting for a long time.

Also, I knew that my money would do a bit to increase the media coverage. I want people to be well aware that this project exists and that there's an alternative. I suppose it's rather early for the spotlight. The risk (aside from, you know, that they'll just commit fraud) is that now instead of being hungry and creating something that works they'll go the route of designing the perfect thing.

Optimizing donations (4, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238332)

Interesting the way their donations are structured:

Pledge $10 or more
Get a CD, note, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers

Pledge $25 or more
Get a CD, note, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers, and a awesome diaspora t-shirt!

Pledge $50 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus 1 month free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), or free phone support for 1 month if you host your own.

Pledge $100 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus 3 month free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), or free phone support for 3 months if you host your own.

Pledge $350 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus 1 year free of our turnkey hosted service (when it becomes available), and free phone support for 1 year if you host your own.

Pledge $1,000 or more [5 only]
Get all of the above stuff, plus access to the nightly build server for Diaspora, so you can check out our progress all summer!

Pledge $2,000 or more [4 only]
Get everything above, plus we will send you a brand new computer fully configured so you can host your own Diaspora seed from right under your bed!

The actual physical goodies stop at $25, and every level after that is soft goods. When you have to send out a t-shirt at the $25 level and they're on the hook for international shipping costs, how much is actually left over for development?

I would have structured things a bit differently. Of course, this is with 20/20 hindsight with the knowledge that their project would get viral media coverage and the fundraising would exceed expectations.

Pledge $10 or more
Get an official sponsor certificate from the developers [really a PDF over email, no mailing expenses]

Pledge $25 or more
Get an official sponsor certificate, and a bunch of cool diaspora stickers

Pledge $50 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus an awesome diaspora coffee mug!

Pledge $100 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus a cool diaspora polo shirt!

Pledge $350 or more
Get all the above stuff, plus a rocking diaspora laptop courier bag!

Pledge $1,000 or more
[Something along the lines of what they did, but something tangible as well. I also would have upped the slots. Instead of 5 only, make it 50.]

Pledge $2,000 or more
[Something along the lines of what they did, but something tangible other than the computer. I also would have upped the slots. Instead of 4 only, make it 20.]

Pledge $10,000 or more
[Why not? Something special as a silver level sponsor.]

Pledge $25,000 or more
[Something special as a gold level sponsor.]

Pledge $50,000 or more
[Something special as a platinum level sponsor... possibly credit on the site?]

Pledge $100,000 or more
[Hey, why stop now? Appeal to peoples' greed. 1% founders shares or something along those lines. This puts a $10M valuation on the company which is amazing for something that's 4 guys and an idea of cloning the 800lb market-leading gorilla.]

Patron Model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238896)

This is related to the patron model where a patron would pay for an artists services.
http://www.koboldquarterly.com/ follows a similar model for written gaming products where donating money allows an input into the creative process.

Makes sense, given what they say they're doing (1)

Alien1024 (1742918) | more than 3 years ago | (#32238946)

From the previous story I understood they had raised 23 grand (not 170) readily available (rather than pledges).

Anyway, the "pledge" thing makes sense in this case, because what they're trying to do (a fully distributed, server-less social network) is extremely difficult or impossible to do. Yeah I know about DHT and kinda works for file sharing (by far less efficiently than tracker torrents), but even if they managed to pull that off, slow performance when looking up information and sections of the data being unavailable at times would be showstoppers. An even worse problem would be securing profile information and updates, since this facebook-killer project was ignited by privacy concerns.

Facebook is a silly place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32238962)

And that, my liege, is how we know the Web to be banana-shaped.

This new learning amazes me, Sir Zuckerberg. Explain again how a series of tubes may be employed to eliminate privacy.

Oh, certainly, sir.

Look, my liege!

[trumpets]

Facebook!
Facebook!
Facebook!

It's only a website.

Shhh!

Friends, I bid you welcome to your new home. Let us ride... to Facebook.

[singing]

We're Friends of the round table
We Poke when e're we're able
We do Farmville and play Mob Wars
With mousework impecc-able
We lurk around on Facebook
We tag and quiz our friends a lot!

[dancing]

We're Friends of the round table
Our Likes are for-mid-able
Though many times we're given gifts
That are fake and unuse-able
We're news-feed mad on Facebook
We check from mobile phones a lot!

[tap-dancing]

Oh, our Walls we cradle
Quite indefatigable
Between our posts we friend request
And pad our list where able
It's a busy life on Facebook
I have to push the 'Hide' a lot!

[outdoors]

Well, on second thought, let's not go to Facebook -- it is a silly place.

Right.
Right.

And now for something completely different!

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb f***s.

Like the idea, HATE the name (1)

merc (115854) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239036)

The name sounds like a disease you contract after not taking a bath for several months.

Re:Like the idea, HATE the name (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239324)

Well, I suppose it does if you don't have enough of a vocabulary to already know what the word means. It's not all that uncommon of a word. I quite like it myself.

Re:Like the idea, HATE the name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32241054)

And of course the other big advantage of the name is that you can quickly look it up in a dictionary, and then proclaim loudly to everyone else that their vocabulary just isn't large enough.
Feel free to add the exclamatory "peasant" at the end for additional effect. A short pause may enhance it further.

According to wikipedia the word means something like "forced exile", ie FORCING people to leave somewhere where they were all together. It doesn't mean attracting them away from that place with a lovely alternative, so it seems a pretty negative meaning to me.

Where was this publicised? (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239294)

I read BoingBoing, SlashDot, The Register and a few others all via RSS, and I'm very interested in Facebook alternatives, yet the first I heard of this was after they'd already reached their funding goals. Did I just miss the story here?

FWIW, I think Diaspora is an awesome name.

(plu5 one Infor8ative) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239594)

Recent Sys Admin FrreBSD at about 80 or make loud noises year contract. The project to Usenet. In 1995, 1. Therefore there guys are usually

Judenbengel (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239774)

Kommentar überflüssig.

Perhaps we need a Free Software AppStore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32239884)

I've been wondering for a little while now why we in the Free Software community are not emulating the success of the Android and Apple online application stores?
I'm the author of a couple of moderately successful FOSS projects (one of which is now in the official Debian repos). I used to be happy to donate time and effort developing software without thought of recompense, but now my circumstances have changed and while I still have plenty of project ideas I find I cannot afford to spend the time developing them without some prospect of at least a little reward. it seems the 'donation' button thing is a bit of a joke, yet the script-kiddies are hacking together toys for the app stores and getting a couple of quid/dollars* each time they are downloaded.
I'd be first in line if, for example, Ubuntu started selling apps in its Sofware Centre/Center*.

*delete as applicable

At least they paid a lot to get the /. advertising (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32239932)

Interesting, how there suddenly is this flood of Diaspora “articles” here on /..
I guess the motto must be: Repeat that it’s “oh so great”, until people start believing it. (Considering how many people here consider information a product that can be owned and stolen, it worked for MAFIAA FUD.)

Sorry, I looked into diaspora at the first article. And it’s noting more than a half-assed idea made into a quickly hacked-together piece of software. The problem is, that the foundational idea is not thought trough. Not even remotely. But as always, they run with it anyway, because they think they have thought it trough. But unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s by definition doomed to fail in the long run.
Yes, the ideas are better then the current ones. But ridiculous compared to what could have been thought up.
I know because I was at the level of thought of Diaspora about five years ago. And I had to dismiss it for the problem is brought with it, shortly thereafter. Like how extremely easy it is to subvert and abuse the whole thing into the same old mess we have now, only harder to kill.

So please think this trough to the end, and until then stop with the articles on something that doesn’t even really exist yet. It’s the definition of vaporware.

Re:At least they paid a lot to get the /. advertis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32241804)

Right.

Because if YOU couldn't do it, then nobody can.

Maybe, just maybe, they actually are smarter than you.

Kickstarter is a scam, plain and simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32240120)

Kickstarter is an unimaginably cynical scheme to dupe naive people into pressuring their friends and relatives into donating pity funds to their projects, from which funds Kickstarter skims off 5% + processing fees. Look at the type of project listed on the site. "Robin Writes a Book, and You Get a Copy." Kickstarter won't post a project until you agree by email that you already have a circle of followers who will contribute to the project, because you will receive zero contributions otherwise. So all they do is take money from your own kindly aunts and uncles.

The Diaspora "phenomenon" is a possibly orthogonal scam-- hidden venture capitalists pouring money into their own project for the hype factor-- or else a complete fluke... but I sincerely doubt there's even one real cent represented in their total. Do a thought experiment: would I contribute a dollar to even an open-source project when there isn't a the vaguest whiff of a contract implied? The opposite, in fact: you have to agree that there are no obligations on the part of the project money-collectors. It's a pure donation. Nobody, not even the most magnanimous privacy-wonk, would give their credit card number for this.

It's just a scam. And it makes me ashamed to be a geek that the geek-world is still pretending this is real.

Micro-VC laws? (1)

wdavies (163941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241076)

I sponsored them, out of a sense that their idea (distributed ownership of social networking) is a good idea. I think Facebook's multiple faux pas added a huge impetus to their publicity, the least of which was the NY Times article. Frankly, if you can get a NYTimes article you are heads and shoulders ahead in publicity.

However, one thing did bother me about this, not the lack of contracts or whatever, it is a donation, with no expectations. But what are the rules that govern micro-finance loans, venture capitalism, etc. I mean, why couldnt you just have KickStarter work as a micro-VC plain and simple, and get shares in these projects? VC tend are required to only get money from large net worth individuals. Microloans it appears anyone can participate in? So why not micro-VC ? I guess the difference is in Oversight? If I donate money to something, I know I am giving it away (and presumably have a motivation such as supporting free software or whatever). However if I invest it in a MVCfund I have some expectation of getting it back - Micro-loans have a much lower degree of risk - VCs are at 5% or whatever, chance of success.

Anyone else thinking about this stuff?

Winton

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