The 22 year old co-founder of social network Diaspora died over the weekend in San Francisco. It’s been reported that Ilya Zhitomirskiy may have committed suicide, but it will take a couple of weeks to confirm the cause of death according to the medical examiner’s office.
Ilya Zhitomirskiy and three other New York University students came up with the idea of an open-source social network in 2010. It’s like Facebook but provides it’s users with more control over their privacy. On the homepage of Diaspora webpage it states: “Diaspora* is a 100% volunteer-run, open organization, which means that our users do everything from open-source software development to spreading the word to translations to graphic design to providing support to fellow users, among other things. Diaspora is an open-source and distributed community of social networks run by users that enables you to own your own personal data, control with whom you share, and discover cool stuff throughout the Web.”
Diaspora co-founder Raphael Sofaer gave an explanation of the project to The New York Times in May 2010 saying, “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.”
Diaspora’s twitter posted a tweet early today saying they are very very sad about Ilya Zhitomirskiy’s death and linked to TechCrunch‘s article.
Today, the Diaspora website posted a picture of a dandelion and the words: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy 1989-2011″ in honor of him. Also a memorial site has been set up at Respectance.com.
While word has been spreading about the Diaspora co-founder death of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Diaspora was still doing work and inviting people to come try out their redesigned experimental version website. They set up a nonprofit foundation to take donations for their website start-up. When people started to donate, they ran into some problems with PayPal holding their money hostage on October 19, but released their funds by October 20. Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg is reported to have donated money to financially back up Diaspora around that time.
The website founders raised $10,000 in 12 days, raising $200,000 from 6,500 donors in 39 days one including that famous Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg told Wired in May 2010 that he “think(s) it is cool people are trying to do it. I see a little of myself in them. It’s just their approach that the world could be better and saying, “We should try to do it.”
Watch the video below of the four founders of Diaspora explain what it is:
We take a little time to discuss our reasoning behind Diaspora.
Image Credit: Frontpage of Diaspora