Creating a social networking site isn't easy. It apparently took Mark Zuckerberg months of code writing and hacking to get the original up and running, from which the mighty privacy killer we all know and loveneed once sprung. But four NYU students managed to raise the money for Diaspora*, what they're calling a "privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network" in just 12 days, thanks to people who are ready for their internet lives to be private again.

The software will eventually allow users to set up personal servers called "seeds," allowing them to create their own hubs and control exactly what information they share. Co-creator Raphael Sofaer predicts that this could be the end of centralized social networking sites like Facebook. He told the Times (which also published a photo a dirty UNIX joke), “In our real lives, we talk to each other. 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." All their software will be open source, so other programmers can build on what they've created.

The premise has been gaining popularity, especially after Facebook announced their latest round of changes to their privacy settings. Many users worry their private information will be given to corporations, and are weighing the costs of social networking membership against the risks. “When you give up that data, you’re giving it up forever,” co-creator Max Salzberg said. "The value they give us is negligible in the scale of what they are doing, and what we are giving up is all of our privacy." Of course, you could just not put any private information on the internet, but then where would you derive your sense of self-worth?