When the Diaspora project was first announced, it made huge waves in the tech world. A group of students from New York University were asking for money to create a social network that rivaled Facebook, but without the privacy concerns. They wanted a place where users had full control of their content and they raised more than $200,000 to do it.
Over the weekend, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the founders, died at age 22. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
TechCrunch, which was one of the first to report the news, wrote:
The news is incredibly jarring, to the point that much else I could say escapes me. Ilya was just 22. To see any member of our community pass is sad, but for one so young to go is absolutely crushing.
In 2010, The New York Times profiled the founders. Here's how they described the project:
They have called their project Diaspora* and intend to distribute the software free, and to make the code openly available so that other programmers can build on it. As they describe it, the Diaspora* software will let users set up their own personal servers, called seeds, create their own hubs and fully control the information they share. Mr. [Raphael] Sofaer says that centralized networks like Facebook are not necessary. "In our real lives, we talk to each other," he said. "We don't need to hand our messages to a hub. What Facebook gives you as a user isn't all that hard to do. All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren't really rare things. The technology already exists."