I hear plenty of complaints about the changes in Facebook's policies. I personally never made a Facebook or Myspace account for the very privacy reasons people are pointing out now. I recently read about those privacy concerns in the article An open book from the June 05, 2010 issue of World Magazine. E-mail works just fine for my communications, even though I should probably be GPG encrypting them.
In April 23rd, I was browsing through some new projects at Kickstarter and saw an interesting project. It was Diaspora. Four NYU computer science students (Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer, and Ilya Zhitomirskiy) decided to work on this project over the summer. It looked like a good project to fund, especially since it follows what I originally thought how the Internet worked like before I learned how it actually does work like.
So I donated, and I'm now one of the 6479 people who financially backed up Diaspora. By the time the funding was completed, $200,642 had been raised, 20 times the amount they asked for! The money raising itself was enough to give itself the much needed publicity. It's now mentioned from places like BBC News, The New York Times, even the webcomic xkcd. Other projects like one social web and OpenSocial haven't gotten nearly as much publicity.
Technical details as far as I understand them are a bit sketchy, but I believe Diaspora will be deployed like WordPress, That is you can install it on your own server, and communicates like SatusNet (Diaspora will be implementing the Ostatus protocol).
Information is a bit scarce now because the four developers “locked themselves in a room”
but the best place I know to find out more is Avery's Unofficial Diaspora News.