Monthly Archives: October 2007

OpenSocial & Ning

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We love today’s OpenSocial announcement. For those of you who don’t eat, breathe, and sleep web standards, OpenSocial is a new open web API being spearheaded by Google and joined by a wide range of partners including us, Google’s own Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, Salesforce.com, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide.

Marc has a great post explaining OpenSocial generally. Here’s an excerpt:

In a nutshell, OpenSocial is an open web API that can be supported by two kinds of developers:

“Containers” — social networking systems like Ning, Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, and Friendster, and…

“Apps” — applications that want to be embedded within containers — for example, the kinds of applications built by iLike, Flixster, Rockyou, and Slide.

We’re supporting OpenSocial whole hog and will make it available to all 113,000 social networks on Ning either later this year or early next. Specifically, we’ll roll this out as:

  • An outstanding Container. OpenSocial apps will be able to run easily and reliably inside social networks across the Ning Platform. You’ll be able to quickly and easily add OpenSocial apps to your social networks and your members will also be able to quickly and easily add OpenSocial apps to their member profile pages on your network.
  • An App publisher. As you know, you can already add one-click integration with Facebook automatically on your social network – specifically for video, photo, and music players – using the Facebook proprietary platform approach. We will automatically produce the option on your social network on Ning to have your network be an “app” embeddable on other social networks or “containers” participating in this standard.
  • Ultimately, an outstanding environment within which you can build new OpenSocial apps. (More on that later.)

Here’s a quick screencast Kyle put together describing how you or any member of your network might take advantage of OpenSocial when this is out in the wild across social networks on Ning:

See the full screen version here.

Enjoy!

Update: Marc on his blog just made a few good points that I should add here. First, these aren’t just screenshots in photoshop. This is working code that we have on the demo networks we’re showing off. Second, the lack of visual integration of Flixster on the Ask a Ninja network is by design to show the app as separate code. When we release our support of OpenSocial across the social networks on Ning, we will ensure full visual integration of apps into networks.

The Potential of All This

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I am occasionally blown away by simple facts. Like the simple fact that there are 1.3 billion people online today and, according to Morgan Stanley, less than 15% have been to a social network.

Now some would use this fact to discount the potential of social networks – to write them off as just “a fad.”

We think the exact opposite to be true.

The potential for social networks is far reaching, global, and will consist of incredible diversity. When people have the freedom to create, the results are amazing. That’s certainly true on Ning today with 113,000 social networks and this is only the beginning.

By giving people the freedom to create the exact right social network for them, with their brand, their visual design, their members, and their choice of features – either offered by Ning, developed directly, or made available by external developers for their networks – we will be using combinations of software in six, twelve, and twenty-four months from now that we can’t conceptualize today.

While watching from the sidelines will certainly be interesting, being at the center of all of this – actually creating software that matters – will be both fun and awesome. For those of you who want to throw your hat into the ring, this is going to be one fantastic ride.

Fingerstache

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Every so often the amazing promise of “building your own social network for anything” comes to sweet, sweet fruition. Today is one of those days.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Fingerstache. Discovered by Mackenzie, one of our Team Advocacy all-stars, this network has captured the hearts and minds of Ning HQ today.

Naturally, we couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon. I give you Mackenzie, Alex, Mike, Phil and yours truly.

Happy Fingerstaching!

EPIC-FU Rising

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Fans of the web’s JETSET Show may have been surprised today to find that Zadi and Steve have done a total reboot. R.I.P. JETSET, long live EPIC-FU! What’s cool about this rebranding is how easily they were able to transition MIX (the show’s companion social network) from JETSET to EPIC-FU.

A few tweaks on the network’s Appearance page, a domain mapping switch and BOOM…MIX was reborn. When you have total control over your brand, moving’s a breeze.

DUB Magazine’s DUB Pages

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Dub Pages is the social network for Dub Magazine. Dub Magazine is for people who trick out their cars in some serious ways. Let me just say that my car would love some serious tricking out. These guys make it look easy and the results are stunning.

With over 500 members and counting, including celebrity members, these guys are doing some great things in their use of graphics in text boxes, contests, and overall visual design.

Definitely worth a look.

EB Friends

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EB Friends is a social network for those affected by the skin disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa. This is a rare disease, however EB Friends truly shows the power of the human spirit. As Pez D. Spencer, EB Friends’ Network Creator (with Cristina Perez), writes:

EB Friends was created as a place of support for those affected by the skin disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa. Part of our philosophy is that laughter is the best medicine so while we respect the sensitive nature of this severe and sometimes devastating disorder, here at EB Friends we also incorporate fun, games and laughter to help lift spirits and reduce stress that is often so much a part of EB families’ lives.

Not only is EB Friends a great community that offers support and connection, but Pez D. Spencer and the rest of the administrators do a fantastic job of making EB Friends a welcoming and supportive environment for all those who join. There are events for kids, a creative writing program, and other great activities.

We are incredibly impressed by the folks at EB Friends and are proud that Ning can provide the foundation for this type of connection.

110,000 Social Networks and Counting!

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110,000 social networks on Ning. There’s a wahoo in there somewhere. The last few weeks have been amazing on so many different levels, not the least of which is our continued rate of social network growth on Ning as well as the jaw-dropping diversity of these networks. The results continue to so far exceed our expectations.

At some point, I’m going to get sick of celebrating every time we add another 10,000 networks on Ning with another happy photo, but, man, we’re not there yet.

Multiple Personalities

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There has been a lot of talk in Silicon Valley these days about the Social Graph. The Social Graph is a great theoretical concept that puts forth the notion that everyone in the world is related via an underlying map of nodes (people) and interdependencies (how they are related). The theory of the Social Graph is that one exists. It’s not hard to get on board with that.

What’s been fascinating to me is the bastardization of the Social Graph in the press from a cool theoretical concept into the perceived goal of successful social “utilities” to define the Social Graph in its entirety under one commercial roof. That it is possible to have online what has never been possible in the real world: a simple, uniform organization of everyone in the world with real, accurate identities in one place.

For people who are attracted to order and uniformity, this may be the ultimate promise of the Internet. However, this approach runs smack up against one big problem: Human Nature.

People thrive on the freedom to display different sides of their personality to different people depending on the context. Having one uber-context with one uber-profile is in inherently limiting, albeit theoretically easier to manage.

For example, one of the first things we heard when we launched Your Own Social Network for Anything with one profile photo across all networks was that people wanted different profile photos for different networks. Our reaction? Duh, of course they do! We all want the freedom to express ourselves in different ways depending on who we’re with.

Last week we launched profile photos per network and our traffic has shot up since. While I don’t think that alone has driven our growth, we are seeing that anytime we offer people more options for expressing themselves, there is a direct correlation with member growth on networks.

We think services that provide people with a way to manage a single profile in a uniform way are fantastic for bringing new people into social networking in the same way AOL was a critical step in getting people online in the first place.

Ultimately, though, as a new technology matures, it more and more closely evolves to reflect fundamental human behavior. People want the freedom to create unique experiences. They want their own space with their own norms, features. members, ideas, and designs. They want more and more ways to express themselves as the unique individuals they are. They want to be human.

Broadwayspace: Another Apple Ad!

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So, this is too cool. Right after I posted about The Inter-Mission and Kristin’s Apple Ad, I joined Broadwayspace.com, a social network for peoplewhoneedpeople (aka – fans of Broadway) and met Ken Davenport, its Network Creator.

He just wrote me and said that he had an Apple Ad too! I always knew our Network Creators were impressive, but this 1-2 punch of Apple Ad-ness is just awesome.

Ken’s put together an incredibly fun social network at Broadwayspace.com. It’s a great example of a lesson for all Network Creators that photos are the keys to the kingdom:


Find more photos like this on BroadwaySpace

Inter-Mission: The Future of Dance

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I discovered The Inter-mission, a social network for individuals with a vested interest in the future of dance, last week. It’s beautifully done. Like other successful networks on Ning, you know immediately what the network is about via a combination of visual design, members, text, and photos.

As it turns out, The Inter-Mission is but one small piece of a larger media empire created by Kristin called The Winger. Just watch her Apple iPhone ad to find out more. How cool is that?

The branding carries over beautifully to the videos, photos, and badges. Here’s a few examples:

Video Player

Find more videos like this on THE INTER MISSION

Photo Slideshow

Find more photos like this on THE INTER MISSION

The Inter-Mission Badge

Visit THE INTER MISSION

With The Inter-Mission I can now live vicariously through the professionals and keep my late night interpretive dancing to myself. I love the Internet.