2.27.07 Ning: Both a platform and easy-to-use site tool
Judging from Ning.com's response time this morning - which is to say, no response - I'd say Marc Andreessen's social networking company either has a bright future because so many people are interested or a dim one because their servers are so unprepared for news-day stress. So we must trust in reviewers who got a look at it last night.
Ning relaunches tonight with new functionality and an interface that allows even the most novice of web users to create their own highly customized social network in moments. ... I’m now willing to offer a full mea culpa. The new Ning is an impressive and useful service.
Om says the new service is focused, simple and streamlined.
Today’s social networking services are fantastic, but they are very similar in approach to AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy in the early nineties. They have a fixed and rigid view of what people can do,” says Marc Andreessen, co-founder and CTO of Ning.
The analogy is apropos, for there are some of us who believe that the social networks are getting rapidly commoditized, and becoming what amounts to being a feature. That is not necessarily a bad thing – since it means the focus is squarely on the vibrancy of community.
In the TechCrunch comments, a user named Drama 2.0 raised this issue:
I consider Ning to be the Ezboard of social networks. For those who are unfamiliar with Ezboard, it’s a service which enables anybody to set up a free message board. I have seen some of Ezboard’s most popular communities migrate away to their own platform because the ownership, full control and flexibility needed is just not available in a solution like this and once you get big enough, it doesn’t make any sense to outsource your fate.
... [A]ctually we are shooting for something very different than EZBoard. We’re building a full platform — completely programmable in every respect. More like an online operating system than anything else, actually — just focused on powering social networks.
The platform is providing, via those web services API’s, all of the key functionality — friends, messaging, user authentication, content management, search, tagging, video, photos, mobile uploading, etc.
The point being:
* We can build on that platform — and we can add features on it very rapidly from here on out.
* Anyone can build any new application using our core services — that application can either run in the Ning environment (our embedded PHP runtime) or outside and just use our web services API’s.
Finally, here's a demo video from The Ning Blog.