It turned out to be a bit more complicated to install than would be comfortable for the average person, and most people interested in social networking don't have a server kicking around to toss this onto, some people were frustrated that it did not immediately meet that expectation.
However, there were many people who DID have server space and enough tech-savvy skills to create their own diaspora* pods and they started popping up all over, open for the public to use. As the years passed, more and more have opened, many of them hosting thousands of people, while some stay closed to their own personal interest group. Regardless, we have many pods, with many people in many places, all communicating with one another and interacting with each other much in the manner that WAS indeed the initial goal.
The diaspora* community (as well as another federated network called Friendica- which did have success with two way interaction with Facebook for a while) originally had a desire to communicate with Facebook also. The goal was to be able to interact back and forth with people not only within diaspora* or Friendica but across platforms such as Facebook as well. Facebook of course has pulled the ability for outside connections some time ago, so this is not ever likely to happen. However more and more people are realizing they don't want to communicate with Facebook at all if they do not have to, so this is no longer a down-side. Also, very likely related is that as these open source social networking alternatives have popped up, big companies have been pulling their api's from all over in order to limit communication and keep the walled garden even more tightly enclosed. I remember not so long ago when I could use a number of apps, like Trillian, that would allow me to chat with Facebook friends, Skype friends and more... but Facebook and Skype have been the worst as far as shutting themselves off from outside alternatives completely.
Diaspora allows me to post to contacts not only on other diaspora* pods, but to my friends on Friendica and Hubzilla for full two way communication. I can even cross post from Diaspora* to Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress (and some pods have posting to Facebook as well, but like other cross posting services, it is not a two-way street). I can also choose to use my Wordpress plugin and post from Wordpress to diaspora* .
A really great new addition this year in diaspora* is the Chat function. From your main page at your Diaspora* hub you will see a sidebar thingy you can click on and you can add contacts to your roster. Much like other xmpp services, you both need to add each other to communicate. I still find this feature a bit buggy, as it disappears when I navigate away, however it comes back up on the main page immediately. The best thing is however, I am using my Diaspora* account as an xmpp account for my xmpp client Jitsi. What does this mean? Well, if you use any xmpp chat client, Pidgin, Jitsi, Gajim etc, just add a new account to it, and it will be your diaspora* username and password. Ex: If you are firstname.lastname@example.org , then you just use that, and your diaspora* password. Now you can be connected even when not logged into diaspora*, as long as your other diaspora* contacts are online either on Diaspora* or their own xmpp clients. I absolutely LOVE this, as I have diaspora* friends whom I really enjoy chatting with in real time and not just via private messaging.
Here is a video one of the d* members made about using chat on your pod:
If you were ever thinking of moving away from Facebook and Google+, social networks that track you and consider you nothing more than an ad target, or if you presently need to use those services but would like an alternative that you are in control of and can feel safe using, then check out diaspora*
Recently a new member made a video , showing how to find, set up and make the most of a diaspora* account from start to finish. It's a little bit long but worth the watch for those who have no idea what diaspora* can do, and gives you a good understanding of choosing a Pod and what that means and all that other stuff.
Whether you are head of an organization who perhaps wants to create your own pod being in control of who is accessing your information, or for people who want to keep their identity private and not be tracked when they go from their diaspora* site to the rest of the internet, or if you are someone who wants to simply break free of the force-fed style of social networks today, consider diaspora* . It is run by an active, passionate vibrant community. Diaspora* IS the community.
For more information:
My somewhat similarily rambly 'Intro to Diaspora' post I made here a few years ago with more background information about Diaspora and basic instructional stuff.
Choose your Pod and Join us!
Want to host your own pod for yourself, your group or the general public?
Are you a diaspora* member looking at ways to help out further? New ideas can formally be brought up over here at Loomio and if you have some tech skills to offer, come visit d* over at our GitHub