I’ve been playing around with Diaspora*, a new social network that apparently is trying to be an “open” social network — anyone can host a Diaspora* server, for example.
In practice, Diaspora* looks and operates so much like Google+ that I struggled to find a difference. Even Diaspora*’s aspects, which it describes as “unique,” seem to function exactly like Google+ Circles: named groups of friends.
The main difference appears to be that Diaspora* automatically signs up a few people for your stream, based on the interests you specify when you first sign up for the service. There are quite a few technical glitches, too, though that’s unsurprising for a grassroots service that’s still in alpha.
When I first saw this, I harrumphed. Then I took a moment to think, and remembered that I love Google+. If a new social network were to imitate any existing one, I’d want it to mimic Google+.
The big question is whether enough people care about the whole “Google vs. open standards” issue to use a platform that’s exactly like an existing one.