After the tragic loss of one of its core members, the team behind Diaspora–a Y-Combinator-backed open source “anti-social network”–went underground for a while, privately grieving while attempting to keep the well-funded and highly hyped company running. But the startup show must go on: AllThingsD reported today that the Diaspora team channeled their grief into a new site–launched today and called Makr–that allows you to easily remix and distribute photos.
Makr looks a lot like a slew of different products out there, including NYC-based Can.vas and Obvious Corporation’s newest platform Medium, while borrowing the notion of a “front page” populated by trending posts from Reddit. Users can upload their own images or remix already posted ones, adding pithy captions. Other users can then like, remix or comment on photos.
We caught Makr cofounder Max Salzberg in a chat on the site while browsing, and he agreed to discuss Makr with us–only after he was done making his bacon, of course.
“It’s kind of like the game Telephone that people played in kindergarten,” he told Betabeat by phone. “You say one thing, but the next person hears another thing. We’re trying to think of a simple, easy way for people to be creative. You can play around with a simple quippy thing and then your friends can riff off of that.”
“I think that what we’re trying to do is make memes for everybody, so it doesn’t need to be a lolcat or some sort of weird internet comment to be a meme,” Mr. Salzberg added. “We think people will use Makr in schools and in workplaces. You can express some sort of emotion and other people can kind of respond in a way that’s about creating something.”
(We decided to leave the debate over the difference between a meme and an image macro for a later time.)
Makr’s front page is dominated by images that are a little self-referential, including a bunch of remixed pictures of the Makr team itself and captions like “Makr.io: Powered by Mariah Carey & Pizza.” But perhaps Makr’s most powerful idea is the notion of hosting both real and virtual parties where users schedule a time to get together and remix photos. As someone who clings to our computer on Friday nights like most people do a whiskey sour, we can definitely see why that’s appealing.
“Most people think technology is mediating you from the real world, but we feel like it’s giving you this opportunity to have another way to hang out with your friends,” said Mr. Salzberg
As for the future of Diaspora? Turns out it doesn’t really need the team to stick around and run things.
“Diaspora is more of an open-source community project; at this point there’s lots of people all over the world working on it,” Mr. Salzberg said. “Makr is our main focus.”