How is solid different from Diaspora and Mastodon?


When I was describing Solid to my friend, he told me about these two services (see below) that exist already and are distributed and use concepts similar to Solid. Putting you in control of your data.

Diaspora is a bit like facebook:

Mastodon is more like Twitter:

What is your views about the above two services?


I could add similarities to two EU-funded projects, focused on IoT more than on storing contents:

Webinos (multi-device “personal space”, javascript, no semantics):
universAAL (IoT for elderly care, java-osgi, semantical):

IMHO, at some point all those must converge…

A big difference between Solid and (federated) services like Diaspora and Mastodon is that Solid sets a standard way of operating through data model (RDF) and doesn’t dictate how instances should behave as part of a federation.

To some extent I would say Solid is a level “below” Diaspora and Mastodon in the sense that similar services such could be built upon Solid. Diaspora and Mastodon could even integrate into Solid by allowing their users to sign in using their WebID, and then allow users to store the data produced by them on the services on their own POD. But that’s probably going to mean a lot of work, and not something I think would happen anytime soon.


Neither of these have mass users (yet).

There is a reason why Facebook, and its Chinese equivalent, is so prominent. That’s because it is easy for mobile users to view them and easy for mobile users to correspond with one another using them.

Despite the misgivings about the amount of information collected by Facebook, it is unlikely to be challenged until there is a similarly easy to use alternative.

IMHO I think these mean that either:

  1. All the different services currently being developed will need to seamlessly link together in such a way that users cannot see the joins; or
  2. One of the services will need to become pr-eminent, and become the natural choice of the vast majority of users.

I think option one is probably impractical or will take an impractical amount of time and effort.

That leaves option two. Solid not only has to be the best, but it also has to be the easiest for average phone users to use, and it has to get into production pretty quickly. In the long (or short) term, ease of use and time to production is probably going to be more important than whether or not Solid is the best.

The history of technology is full of good ideas that have fallen by the wayside despite being the best. They have either been too complicated for ‘ordinary’ users, or those ‘ordinary’ users have already committed themselves to something that is less technically good but which came to market and built up a user base much earlier (Windows desktops v Linux desktops, Betamax v VHS, etc).




I got interested in Solid through my frustration with Diaspora. Here’s some of what I learned:

At a high level, they want to be a “distributed Facebook”, much like some of the Solid apps we’ve talked about. But that’s the extent of what they’re up to - nothing more than a social network. Solid has bigger ideas.

Diaspora is what I call “partially distributed” - you set up a Diaspora server (they also call them PODs) in one of a list of providers. You are not chained to Facebook, which is a start, but you are somewhat chained to your POD provider - rather than one monolithic Facebook-ish server, you have a choice of several cooperating smaller POD server farms.

A Diaspora POD can only be used as a Diaspora POD - it has no other function, as opposed to Solid PODs which seek to simultaneously work for a multitude of disparate apps.

Diaspora has only gotten traction with techies. As someone on their board said to me, it has a lot of “hard technical edges” that discourage many potential users.

I really hope Diaspora can migrate what they have to Solid PODs, and make their work a little more non-geek friendly. That might get them accelerating again.


The same doesn’t appear to be the case with ‘Mastodon’. It’s home page is user friendly and Mastodon itself is fairly user friendly. Some of the servers already have several thousand of users.

I am registered on several decentralized web platforms, but nobody else in my family is registered on anything other than the usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter, etc. That means, as a parent, grand-parent and great-grand-parent, if I want to keep track of all my fairly scattered family, I have to use the same platforms too. The more they use them, the more dis-inclined they will be to ever leave them.

This brings me back to the original question. If Mastodon is already established and continues to gain traction, and if WebID’s are not compatible,

then solid, despite being far superior, may not be the platform of choice. IMHO speedy development of Solid is as necessary as excellent development of Solid.

There is no way to store calendar and chess game data to Mastodon.
But if Mastodon use SoLiD for its infrestructure, a SoLiD App can read users’ microblogs shared by Mastodon, and can combine them with calendar event and chess game event created by other Apps.

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