Again we have a young man who would like to do something different and what happens? Again we have a case where a young pioneer challenges corporates and what happens? Suicide… I don’t think so:
Social networking pioneer who took on Facebook commits suicide at age 22
One of four friends from NYU who launched Diaspora* site, meant to protect users’ privacy
Group raised more than $200,000 in donations
Mark Zuckerberg praised his project
A 22-year-old social networking pioneer and Internet privacy advocate who dared to challenge Facebook and Google is dead.
Ilya Zhitomirskiy died Saturday after San Francisco police were summoned for a reported suicide, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
Mr Zhitomirskiy was one of the founders Diaspora*, a new social networking service meant to give users more control of their information online, and sought to lure people away from bigger sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
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Pioneer: llya Zhitomirskiy believed he could change the world by giving users more privacy and more control in social networking
Police would not release other details of his death and a medical examiner’s report could take weeks before it becomes public.
Mr Zhitomirskiy and three friends, Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, and Raphael Sofaer, launched a trial run of Diaspora* last year that attracted the attention of The New York Times and National Public Radio and left the tech world buzzing.
They were all students at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Mr Zhitomirskiy described himself on his Twitter account as a ‘free culture and open web enthusiast. Now one of the four Diaspora* bros.’
Despite their desire to compete with Facebook, the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg praised the group, telling Wired last year: ‘I think it is cool people are trying to do it.Coder: Mr Zhitomirskiy was obsessed with Internet privacy, but focused on drawing ‘normal’ people to his social network site‘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.”‘Friends and fans of Mr Zhitomirskiy have written tributes on Twitter after hearing of his death, with one posting: ‘Death of a young entrepreneur is a great loss to the community.’
YOUNG AND BRILLIANT
Mr Zhitomirskiy wasn’t the only programmer to achieve great things in his early years:
- Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook at 19
- Linus Torvalds created Linux, an open-source operating system at 22
- Andrey Ternovskiy was 17 when he made Chatroulette
- Christopher Poole was 15 when he made 4Chan, a chatboard that has been called ‘ground zero of Western web culture.’
The four students announced their software programme in April 2010 and raised more than $200,000 for the project through the online fundraising system Kickstarter.
The project even inspired Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to donate money to the project.
In November 2010 the foursome released a consumer alpha version of the programme, while still making further developments.
Diaspora* is based around privacy concerns related to centralised social networks by allowing users to set up their own servers to host content and then interact with others by sharing status updates, photographs and other data – much like Facebook.Four friends: Four New York University students launched Diaspora*: (from left to right) Maxwell Salzberg, Daniel Grippi, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya ZhitomirskiyBut Diaspora* is different because sites like Facebook and Google store user data within their own networks and own whatever data users upload.
Mr Zhitomirskiy was a hardcore computer programmer, obsessed with Internet security and maintaining privacy online.
But since he began working on Diaspora*, he began focusing on user interfaces and started thinking about how to lure ‘normal’ users away from Facebook.
‘We want to move people from websites that are not healthy to websites that are more healthy, because they’re transparent,’ Mr Zhitomirskiy told New York magazine last year.
‘Even though a nontechnical person may not understand it, they’ll know there’s a community that has said, this is okay.’
Co-founder Raphael Sofaer told the New York Times last year: ‘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 that hard to do.
‘All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren’t really rare things. The technology already exists.’
So do you really think that this young man Ilya Zhitomirskiy just did suicide? When he was on the verge of breakthrough… you decide.