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Diaspora co-founder dies at 22

Open-source Facebook alternative loses 'key voice'

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Open-source social network Diaspora has launched a redesigned alpha version of its software, with invites going out to users of the site hours before it was confirmed that co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 22, had died.

Diaspora is considered by some to be an alternative to Facebook's silo effect, with users supposedly being given more control over what personal data they share and with whom.

The alpha version has morphed the site closer to a Facebook clone. As noted by TechCrunch, the start-up has added notifications, status update Like buttons, direct messaging and its first app – dubbed Cubbi.es – that allows users to post photos to the site using browser extensions.

Diaspora is based on a distributed community, which means the network can be run on connected servers that the unashamedly Web2.0 service likes to refer to as "pods". Anyone can run such a pod, either for development purposes or as a new hosted server on the Diaspora network, which is written in Ruby on Rails.

TechCrunch reported that Zhitomirskiy – one of four founders of Diaspora – died over the weekend. The circumstances of his death are currently unknown.

"Shocked and deeply sad for the world that my friend @zhitomirskiyi, co-founder of Diaspora, is dead... The world needed his voice," said one-time Mozilla user interface guru Aza Raskin. ®

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