October 5, 2005
@ 03:11 AM

I took a look at Ning today and I find it interesting from a number of perspectives. On the one hand, it's simply a toolkit for building websites. The same kind of toolkit you see hawked on infomercials while channel surfing at midnight because you have insomnia. The main difference is that instead of a CD that contains software for building eCommerce websites it's an online website for building 'social software' websites. On the other hand, it shows an interesting direction for web platforms to move in.

Let's say you are Yahoo! or MSN and you now have an extensive array of web services at http://developer.yahoo.com or http://msdn.microsoft.com/msn. So now developers can build desktop applications or their own websites that interact with your APIs. These are akin to the low level APIs for interacting with your web platform. The next step is to build the equivalent of rich, high-level components for interacting with your services so people don't have to mess with the low level details. What I find interesting about Ning isn't "Here's another place where I can build yet another social network different from my IM buddy list/Orkut/Yahoo! 360/Friendster/etc clique" but instead "Here's a place where I can build new apps that harness my existing social network from my IM buddy list/Orkut/Yahoo! 360/Friendster/etc". That would be pretty revolutionary if the various parties involved would be interested in opening their social networks to such mashups.

I suspect I'll be trying to track down some folks from Ning while at the Web 2.0 conference this week.

Anyway, gotta go catch my flight.