Here are my initial thoughts about some barriers to adoption, with ideas for how to combat them.
– Lead feet – basic inertia.
I wouldn’t worry about this, it’s a common human trait. It’s not something Diaspora can overcome through code or marketing - just keep improving the software and community experience, and eventually there will (hopefully) be a critical mass which makes it worthwhile for people to move to Diaspora, given some of the points below.
– 'I’ll wait until my friends are there.'
This is a bit of a Catch-22 situation. One possible way to address this would be to identify and target a few ‘cool’/influential/respected people in various peer groups and encourage them to make the switch and to publicise Diaspora to their circle, and they could then (assuming they like Diaspora) pull over a lot of people, as people who looked up to them would want to be where they are.
But again, it’s not something that we can make happen.
– Don’t see advantages of Diaspora over current network (Facebook, Google+, etc).
This is where communication comes in, and is where Diaspora has traditionally been weak. The new diaspora-project.org site Sean has set up will be a big part of this, and we need to write a load of new, really simple, non-technical guides to what Diaspora is, how it works, and what are the advantages of taking part.
– Don’t see or don’t care about bad aspects of current network (Facebook, Google+, etc).
We could point out the negative aspects of some of these networks (privacy invasion, giving away rights to your data, etc), or we could just ignore this and focus on the positives about Diaspora as a network.
– Don’t understand how decentralised networks in general and Diaspora in particular work.
This is the key area where we really need to work hard, with good, clear, entry-level communication and guides.
I’d like to help with this.
– ‘It seems too techy.’
Two aspects of this:
1, that it all seems rather complicated and unintuitive to use the network;
2, that the community is full of geeks rather than ‘normal’ people.
(I’m not saying Diaspora actually is hard to use, but these are, I think, perceptions which discourage people from trying.) Again, clear and simple communication, including user guides, is part of addressing this, as it reducing the complexity of, for instance, installing and maintaining a pod.
As Diaspora doesn’t have investors who are demanding a return on investment, we don’t actually have a need to recruit certain numbers of people by certain dates, so we should, I think, focus for the moment on removing actual barriers to adoption, as far as this is possible through better communication and improvements in the accessibility of the software and network, rather than actively recruiting people.
As far as recruiting people, I really think we shouldn’t put too much effort into recruiting ‘general’ users – what Sean called ‘Joe Public’ in his recent interview – until the software has reached a certain stage of development, such that:
– federation works smoothly and instantly between all pods, even the largest ones;
– it is possible (and easy) to migrate a seed from one pod to another;
– it is easy to search for people, and all results matching search criteria will reliably be returned (i.e. federation is working properly);
– we have at least a ‘ground covering’ of features that people will expect to find, for example photo albums and groups.
If we recruit general users before these things are in place, many people will be put off and not want to come back in the future. I’ve seen so many comments from people saying ‘This is rubbish, there are no features and not much content, and it doesn’t work properly; I’m closing my account’ over the past two years, and I really think we need to focus on recruiting contributors – developers, communicators, writers and so on – at the moment, getting the software to a certain point (which we could perhaps call ‘v22.214.171.124’) at which it, and the network, is ready for the general user and can do at least some of the things they’ll expect from a social network, having come from Facebook or Google+.