Daniel Grippi and Raphael Sofaer, two of the four founders of the Diaspora open source social networking project, spoke at NYU this week. They said that the project was started by members of the ACM club at NYU and was inspired by a speech by Professor Eben Moglen called Freedom in the Cloud.
In an earlier interview, Grippi said, “it was the first time it made us think of the violence of those that use your data, and of how, behind the scenes of someone who offers you something for free, there’s always someone that uses the data you exchange with your friends. We deleted ourselves from Facebook and we started to think about an alternative. People don’t really understand the risks they’re taking, but even those that understand them don’t know where else to go to.”
Before starting Diaspora, the club had built a MakerBot and had completed other projects together, such as having the door to the club room tweet every time it was used.
The group decided to build a decent social network for nerds. They went to Kickstarter, whose founder is also a graduate of NYU. Kickstarter allows anyone to raise money for any project through very small donations, as little as $5 per person. The group posted what Grippi called “a pretty terrible video.” The goal was to raise $10,000. In fact, they raised $200,000, which at the time was a record for Kickstarter.