Hands-on: a first look at Diaspora's private alpha test
The Diaspora project has launched a private alpha test of its open source social network. It is opening up its own hosted instance of Diaspora to a select group of testers, starting with people who contributed financial support when Diaspora was first getting off the ground. The initial group of participants can invite other people, and the developers will be opening up the service to more users each week.
When the first Diaspora code was first published in September, independent reviewers found some serious technical defects, including a number of security weaknesses. The developers say that the issues that were identified have been addressed and security has continued to be a major focus for the project.
I got an invitation to test the hosted service (special thanks to Ryan Singer, who kindly gave me an invite) and was able to register an account. The Diaspora test server has already become a bit sluggish due to the increase in traffic caused by the private alpha launch. I initially thought that a private beta seemed like an odd approach for launching an open source application, but it makes sense in light of the early performance issues.