Distributed social networks don’t grow on trees, so Friendica kind of suggested itself. Much like Diaspora, there’s a number of public nodes to choose from, and much unlike Diaspora, it’s comparatively easy to set up your own. I tried to set up my own instance on my Uberspace account by following this wiki (used the tar.gz download, so I can update from web later) – it’s really easy, if you can set up wordpress, you can certainly set up Friendica, too.
So you joined a new social network, now how do you populate your stream ? Here we come to Friendica’s killer feature: Integration.
Friendica offers read AND write access to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, StatusNet / Identica, and a couple of others (depending on which plugins are installed, Plus is currently missing but will be added as soon as there are stable APIs). On top of this you can subscribe to RSS feeds, which means you can have one single stream for all your social activities and share posts and articles much more easily.
But Friendica is not just a Meta- network, it also has interesting content of its own. There is a global directory for finding contacts or forums (groups) that match your interests. Right now the directory lists close to 7000 people and 200 forums, the larger ones (Linux, Friendica Support) having something like 100 members. That doesn’t sound much, but there are lively discussions and I already met a lot of interesting people. Besides you can still communicate with your Facebook and/or Diaspora contacts, so content isn’t really an issue.
Feature- wise Friendica has it all. A detailed group- oriented privacy concept (similar to Diaspora aspects and Plus circles), groups (called “forums”), chat (XMMP or IRC), tags, post preview and editing, a WYSIWYG editor, full text search, themes (the screenshots show only a small selection of the available themes) and much more (details here).
Some say Friendica is what Diaspora should have been … this is probably a bit too negative towards Diaspora, but Friendica sure is a compelling alternative, especially if you want to set up your own node or need smooth integration with other networks or just want to see a whole conversation at a glance, and not only a fancy title page.