Monthly Archives: November 2007

Saturday Night is Going to Be Alright (Even If Your Network Won’t Be Available)

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On Saturday night, December 1st, we’re going to be making some improvements to the underlying Ning Platform that will result in the speediness and general software happiness of your network. To do this, Ning and your networks will be unavailable from 9pm to 12am Pacific Time, that’s 5:00am to 8am GMT.

During the scheduled maintenance, your network will have its own custom page letting your members know that your network is undergoing scheduled maintenance. Otherwise, we’ll keep you posted on our progress via the Ning Status Blog.

Thanks in advance and enjoy your Saturday night!

WordPress Integration

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A number of our Network Creators use WordPress to power their blogs, and a long-requested feature has been the ability to integrate the WordPress commenting system with a social network on Ning. The wait is over!

We’re proud to announce a new WordPress plugin for your social network. After setting it up, your members will be able to use their email address and password from your social network to sign in and comment on your WordPress blog. With this approach, their blog comments will link back to their individual social network profile pages. Totally integrated. And, yes, totally cool.

[Update: Check out the tutorial here.]

Specific instructions for using this new WordPress plugin from Ning after the jump…

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125,000 Social Networks and Counting!

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Yesterday we passed 125,000 networks on Ning. Wahoo! While some think that this number is meaningless, this growth in social networks also reflects a sizable jump in page views, uniques visitors, and registered members of networks which continue to grow rapidly as well (and which, I would add, are significantly higher than what is suggested by comScore’s U.S. only samples referenced recently by a few folks).

We’re thrilled with the continued diversity, activity, and range of the social networks on the Ning Platform. For this – and many other reasons – we are incredibly thankful. Good thing it’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. so we can shout our appreciation publicly from the rooftops.

Introducing Last.fm on Ning!

We’re pleased to announce that today Last.fm launched a killer “mini-experience” for the (at last count) 123,000 social networks on the Ning Platform.

Using Ning’s support for OpenSocial, the Last.fm Gadget can be added in seconds to member profile pages (as well as your network’s Main page).

If you’d like to try it out and haven’t yet enabled the OpenSocial “Gadgets” on your network, just visit the “Manage” tab on your network, then click the “Features” option. Drag the “Gadgets” module onto your page and save your changes. You’ll see a new “Gadgets” tab in your network’s navigation bar. Click it and you’re ready to add the new Last.fm gadget.

Once you’ve enabled the Gadgets Beta, go to your profile page and click on the link to view Gadgets. From the Gadget Directory, simply find the Last.fm Gadget and click “Add to My Page”:


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And that’s it. It’s pretty darn easy to start enjoying Last.fm’s musical experience on your social network on Ning. Here’s what it looks like on your profile page in the wild:

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Notice that it takes on the colors and visual design of the network in which it is sitting. Another nice touch from your friends at Last.fm and Ning.

This is a great step forward for OpenSocial and we’re psyched that Last.fm chose to showcase their support of it on Ning.

Mythbusters

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We here at Ning are big believers in being transparent. Our purpose – and business – should stand up to scrutiny.

In fact, skeptics are huge for us. If we’re right despite them, then there are fewer people trying or able to deliver what we deliver with our service. If we’re wrong, well, then, we’re wrong. No one should ever be driven by fear of failure in the pursuit of something in which they truly believe. In our case, we believe in the freedom to create for free whatever social network you want. Your own social network for anything. With your brand. With your choice of features. With your look and feel. With your members. Reflecting your decisions.

Given this, we’ll occasionally use our little Ning Blog here to highlight our current favorite myths about Ning. Here’s our top four myths about Ning today:

1. Myth: The Number of Social Networks on Ning is a Meaningless Number.

Fact: The number of social networks on Ning is the single best leading indicator of our future growth. Why? Because without social networks on Ning, we can’t grow. So, as the number of networks grow, so do our registered users, uniques, and, most importantly, page views. This relationship has played out in the course of the past eight months like clockwork:

More networks = more users, more uniques, and more targeted page views.

Now, why don’t we talk about these other numbers publicly? Two reasons.

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CBS Mobile Zone: Mana from Heaven

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This morning CBS launched their CBS Mobile Zone – NYC, described in the press release as:

It will “light up” midtown Manhattan with the creation of the “CBS Mobile Zone,” a wireless high-speed network enabling New Yorkers with Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones, laptops or other devices to access the Internet for free, and make voice over internet (VOI) calls.

The Wi-Fi HotZone, which is available today in certain areas, will be fully operational on by month’s end with a footprint of more than 20 city blocks from Times Square to Central Park South and from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue. This initiative is part of a 6-month pilot program with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to test the potential communications capabilities of Wi-Fi technology.

Beyond giving New Yorkers even more free and convenient ways to access the Internet – and therefore their social networks on Ning! – we also love the CBS Mobile Zone because of its website, which is powered by yours truly:

New Yorkers who access the “CBS Mobile Zone,” will be greeted by an ad-supported homepage that includes hyperlocal content such as breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ringtones, maps, a social network and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically- targeted community reviews. Citi and Salesgenie.com(TM) have signed on to be early sponsors of the Wi-Fi HotZone.

Yep – the CBS Mobile homepage is a customized version of a social network on Ning. This project validates Ning in two interesting ways:

1. It demonstrates the ability to fully integrate external services into and out from your social network on Ning. As most of you know, Your Own Social Network on Ning is completely customizable to be the exact thing you want. CBS Mobile Zone is a great demonstration of Ning’s flexibility and programmability in the wild.

2. Companies can use Ning as easily as individuals. We’ve talked before about the artificial and unnecessary distinction between “enterprise” and “consumer” social networks, especially because Ning is a programmable platform for creating your own social network for anything. To us, “you” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an individual. It’s for anyone – or any entity – for any (legal) purpose. Even if you are The Man, you can create a compelling social network on Ning.

Give CBS Mobile Zone a whirl. It’s fun and we love it. And a shoutout to our friends at Can-Do Entertainment who made this what it is. You guys rock.

Hitting the Airwaves

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If you’re a fan of both Ning and podcasting, Network Creator Randy has the show for you. For the past few weeks, he’s devoted his “Tail of the Whale” podcast to all things Ning. Not only has he taken calls from fellow Network Creators and members, but several Ning employees have joined the discussion, including Mackenzie, Fabricio, Mike and…uh…yours truly. Give it a listen, then join the Network Creators group!

Powderchurch: Social Network for Skiiers

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With Powderchurch, we’ve gone through our first change of seasons here at Ning. As wakeboarding season ends, Murtopia has kicked off ski season with Powderchurch, a social network for ski fanatics. As usual, Murtopia shows off Your Own Social Network on Ning in the best light. Great design, fully logo’ed up widgets, like the photo slideshow below, and great content.


Find more photos like this on Powder Church

One other interesting thing to note about Powderchurch. The ads are targeted to – yes, you guessed it – skiing and skiiers. Your Social Network on Ning and AdSense are meant to be friends. This is a great example of this friendship in action.

Man, these guys make us look good…

Application Development at Ning

Howdy. I’m David Sklar and I’m an Architect here at Ning.

I spend my time figuring out ways to improve Your Own Social Network on Ning and the PHP environment in which it runs.

In the two and a half years I’ve been at Ning, we’ve built a ton of features into Your Own Social Network on Ning with a small team of incredible developers. We’re now looking to expand the Application Development team here and I thought I’d give you a bit more detail of what being an Application Developer at Ning looks like.

Application Developers at Ning use PHP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, a bit of Flash and anything else promising that comes down the pipe to hack on the code that powers (at last count) 120,000 social networks.

Developing Your Own Social Network on Ning combines a comprehensive existing codebase with a perpetual reach for the cutting edge. The 100,000 lines of code that are already there touch everything from video transcoding to dynamically editable localization catalogs. The next wave of projects we’re working on now include:

  • Providing infinite customization to network creators without them having to write a line of code.
  • Building an exchange for coders to publish modules for other networks and for network creators to easily import modules into their networks.
  • Figuring out how to make networks that currently work great with 15,000 members hosted in one datacenter work even better when they have a few million members and are distributed among mulitple datacenters around the world.
  • Leading the way on all parts of OpenSocial — hosting OpenSocial apps, developing OpenSocial apps and figuring out where the OpenSocial APIs need to go.
  • Messaging integration beyond email to SMS, IM, and other real-time channels.

Your Own Social Network on Ning is used by everyone from dental students to 50 Cent. If you like seeing lots of people use (and enjoy using!) the code that you write, this is the job for you.

Being an Application Developer at Ning means you have an extraordinary level of engagement with the folks using and extending your code. Whether it’s Network Creators who are modifying the code of their networks, or suggesting new features and bug fixes, our users are woven into the development process.

Application Developers at Ning currently span three continents, four countries, and at least that many time zones. The sun never sets on Ning! You don’t have to move to Palo Alto for this job, but you’ll probably visit frequently if you don’t.

Sound interesting? Learn more here.