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Senya answers my questions about the successful diaspora*'s crowdfunding campaign

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Everything is already said in my post's title. Senya pleased me answering my questions about him. He luckily has won the right to be paid to work on our lovely social network's improvements thanks to his crowdfunding campaign. Enjoy reading ! Interview available in French here.

Let start with a classic presentation. Can you tell us about who you are ?

My name is Senya and I'm a software developer from Russia. I also do some free software activism supporting free software users locally and spreading the word. I'm 25 now. I started programming at 14 and by 17 I got my first job as a junior developer. A year ago I quit the commercial development to dedicate or at least try to dedicate myself to free software participation.

How did you hear about the diaspora* project ?

If I'm not mistaken, the first time I read about diaspora* project in an online magazine which name I can't remember anymore. It was a review of alternative open source social media project. After a while I started to think about the ways to lower my dependency on vk.com which is Russian "national" social network which predominates in the ex-USSR space. I wanted to have a possibility to share and follow news without the vk.com, but rather with using some free software platform. And I remembered about the diaspora project and tryed it and it fit my purposes: it provided the news stream exportable to ATOM.

Are you an active diaspora* user using a podmin's pod or are you a "poweruser" handling your own pod ?

No, I don't handle my pod. I'm using socializer.cc (thanks, Nico Suhl!). I first became a user and only after a while a contributor, and therefore I just continue to use an account I'm used to and I don't think about my own production pod yet.

diaspora* is well known in Germany and in France. The project has started in the USA. What about in your country, Russia ?

Well, it's not well known. Russian community on diaspora* is rather small. However there is even a pod russiandiaspora.org and a couple of others in Russia. By subjective feeling it's no more than a couple of hundreds active Russian users per month. From time to time I meet people, who know about the project, because it is quite famous (but not popular). But there are almost no one on my stream who I know personally offline.

You started a crowdfunding to work fulltime on this project. How does this idea came out ?

To some extent it is a proof-of-concept for me, that I can work as a paid developer on a project which is inherently non-commercial. Since my early years I was a free software advocate. Today, the free software is widely used at commercial companies for different purposes. But finally it helps to earn money for bosses. Today we have well-developed free operating systems, but it happened mostly because of the commercial sector interest in that development. I like the idea of a community of users which hires a developer to improve the tool they need. Thus, it is entirely grassroots communication and it's awesome! The technology develops without anyone's rich and powerful funding or mediation, so there is no their influence which is usually has a purpose of profiting even more rather than social development, social justice or world peace.

What's your objectives ? Do you feel like this project has a great futur or is it going to remain a geek/nerd social network ?

Now my main objective is to finish the project as soon as possible and as well as possible. I was funded, the community gave me their support and trust, now it's my turn to do my best.

I beleive that the diaspora and the federation at whole may have a great future. For decades Linux and Open Source was thought by many as something margnial, and now Microsoft turns towards it. The trick might work once again. Open source code gives a possibility to adapt the software for your own purposes. I contacted a group of people who worked as a technical support for the truck drivers strike in Russia and I was told that they have an idea of making a social network media for truck drivers which they may trust and they are interested in basing it on some existing code base rather than making it from scratch. Also diaspora now has some well-known niches - as you said "geek/nerd social network" - it supplying users with privacy/technology news and discussions and also as a platform for some sort of leftist news sharing. Diaspora is attractive to people of the idealistic mindset. And starting with niches the federation may reach the point where it has content interesting enough to attract the general public. But that can't happen without well implemented software. And that's where I want to help.

Also, I think the future of the federated web must lay in the diversity of the software. That's what we may also reach with the standardization of protocols powered by open source - software platforms for social media may be implemented in a dozens of ways and if they all support the same exchange protocol their users will communicate with each other in spite of "ideological" disagreement. One, yet theoretical at least for now example may be the implementation of the pod software which doesn't use any JavaScript at all but still works with the federation. There are some people who don't like JavaScript, and it's fair enough because it's hard to control what is being executed on your computer when you have JavaScript enabled. Because of this, today our computers spent considerable amount of resources to show advertisement to us. The federation may help the group of people with such point of view to build a tool of their preference and stay in contact with people who don't agree with them. Generally speaking, the federation will untie the content exchange in social media of the tools we use for that. And that's also awesome.

You're starting a 3 months full-time job on diaspora* thanks to your campaign. At its end, will you try another crowdfunding to keep working on the project ?

We'll see. It depends on the results of this project. The feedback of the community and the core team is important for me.



@Seny, thanks again for your time and your answers. I can't wait to see the result of your work and to meet you at the FOSDEM 2017, who knows ?

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