Diaspora is an attempt to build a social network that contrasts with the locked-garden vision of Facebook, one built on open source software, open exchange of information, and distributed – rather than centralized – communication. I already let slip that we’ll be rebooting our own social endeavor, Create Digital Noise, in the new year. But it’s also telling to see the first noises emerge on Diaspora.

If you wrote off this service when it was in early testing, perhaps overwhelmed by its ambition and crowd-sourced nature, you may be pleasantly surprised. As users gain invites, the service is surprisingly stable and usable – at times, indeed, more so than the offerings of giants Google and Facebook. Most notably, features like tagging make it possible to actually focus on a task. (Compare what would happen on the rivals: even Google’s Circles can be more a chore than a useful feature, and Facebook still tends to dump everything in giant, overcrowded buckets of chatter.)

I’m game for any excuse to get together and make music with people, whether at a website, a studio, or in someone’s kitchen. So, here’s this experiment – Jóhannes Gunnar Þorsteinsson kicked off the first Diaspora sound project:

Here is the initial foundation track for the #diasporanoise2011 open collaboration project. Initially the rules are the following, Once you comment in this thread and ask to join you will be assigned into a queue according to the number of your comment. Apart from that, the rules are completely freeform. You can add a layer of sound to the original recording, or you can completely remix it, cut it up or even destroy it. When you are done you upload the bounced track to your upload service of choice with the same naming scheme as the link below. (yournumber_yourname_diasporanoise2011.wav), if you decide to upload more than one tracks for some reason, zip them together but use the same naming scheme.

There is no actual time limit, (at least not for now) but try to stick to max 1-3 days per person. Recordings and work at this nature is usually done improvised (and that’s usually where the magic happens) so more time shouldn’t be needed. Of course if more time is needed for some reasons then just let us know and I am sure we’ll understand.

I refer affectionately to many kinds of music as “noise,” but this certainly fits the bill – some experimental soundscapes going on, like this one (I enjoy it!):
04_juredimec_diasporanoise2011 by sundrdisko

Diaspora users can find the whole thread – and lots of tracks to hear – at:

If you’re really, really desperate for an invite, explain why in comments and perhaps one of us can hook you up.

You’ll find in this thread that what happens for many musicians is various places to host sound, from Dropbox to self-hosted files to the increasingly-ubiquitous SoundCloud. Diaspora itself lacks audio upload features, but on the other hand, there are some limitations to what even a sound-focused service like SoundCloud offers in collaboration features. (For instance, I recently ran up against the inability to run private groups or easily download bunches of stems on SoundCloud, which makes even a simple remix collaborative easier on other services. More on that soon.)

The developer-friendly crowd also talk about how to roll your own player, taking on the primary advantage of services like SoundCloud. For instance, one contributor hosts their own files and uses a JavaScript-based solution (with HTML5 and Flash) on which some projects on other services are themselves based.


I’ll be continuing this conversation with readers over coming weeks and in more formal ways, but why not kick it off now: what would you want in a social website, or in collaboration? Leaving out fancy real-time collaborative environments, how would you most want to come together with fellow music lovers and geeks and make some stuff? Having used online communities since the days of BBSes, CompuService, and GEnie, I find often it’s basic, elemental communication that makes things work, so if you had only a select feature or two, what would they be?

(thanks, jure, for the tip!)

  • I'll bite, someone hook me up with an invite.

    Maybe it would be a good place to revive the 'Exquisite Bacon' project we started on the IDM list, where a set of ground rules describe things like tempo and key, and then different individuals contribute e.g. bassline/drums/sound effects/lead sound without hearing what anyone else has done.

  • I wouldn't say I'm "really, really desperate," but it would be fun to jump on board the noise project if somebody doesn't mind hooking me up. 😉

    For a collaboration system, I'd like a cool HTML 5 player with timed comments, the ability to download a bunch of files in groups, and a version control system to keep track of changes as collaborations bounce back and forth…so basically sourceforge or github but with a soundcloud-like player.

  • It sounds interesting =) I don't comment often but I read a lot of this site.

    Can you add me to the list please ?

  • josh g.

    I'm intrigued. I need something to do to keep me learning more in Ableton Live. I could use an invite if possible.

  • the joindiaspora alpha pod is closed. But you can join another pod. Problem is, the pods are eventually supposed to be permeable to one another, but it's not there yet. Therefore, I can't sign in and comment on the #diasporanoise2011 thread.

    Unless the pods certainly see each other eye level, or people can bring their profiles with them to visit other pods, like a hermit crab changing shells, I wonder if these separate pods or mirrors will simply exacerbate the Us and Them phenomenon more so than the "locked garden" communities mentioned in this article? I'll also be curious as to how arbitrary or how deliberate one server will make itself over the other. If it's in your native language, why choose your own country for a pod, for example?

  • Ugo

    Hi everyone, I'm new to this website, but I'm getting more and more interested to this subject. Also if you hit me up I might have a few invites to diaspora. You can send me an email at whoisthis87@ymail.com and I will send you an invite if I can. (Yes this adress seems wierd, but I can't leave my good address on the internet)

  • uuuh

    Is it all hype? Seems to be musicians have been doing this on the internet since 1996.

  • Bob Bell

    Count me in please.

  • will green

    I'd like in,too.

  • Would love an invite please. Sounds good.

  • this is amazing. I just realized they implemented what I have been doing for the past months with a friend who lives across the continent. I was sending him a track and he was replying back with something else and so on.

    so yes…could I get an invite, please????

  • i am about to embark on a PhD in Network Music Performance at the Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast. Would love to test the water on this…..an invite would help – obviously, so please, please, please?

  • sixnon

    likewise, would appreciate an invite. Have been working on collaborative process using the Google + and have had name down at diaspora for some time looking for an opportunity to "roll my own".

  • dlab

    I would love an invite, please! I like making noise.

  • georgios

    i have sucessfully joined in Diaspora*.