When we hear the expression “social networking” it’s easy to think of a very limited number of names – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The reality is that there are many social networks, some wide-ranging and some with limited numbers of members united by a particular interest. Ning is one of the platforms that make the existence of those networks possible.
Ning was formed in 2005 (making it an Internet Ancient) with the specific purpose of enabling people and organisations to create social networks in the form that best suited the kind of people they hoped to attract. All of the basic elements that a Facebook user might expect are there – the ability to post photos and videos; a “Like” button; support for forums and blogs – and, indeed, a Ning platform can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter as well as Google and Yahoo!.
Some 100,000 social websites currently run on the Ning platform and this number will come as a surprise to the many who imagine that social networking does not stretch much further than Facebook.
In 2010, Ning was bought by Mode Media and moved its location to Mode’s headquarters.
A major part of the appeal of Ning is that it allows anyone (or almost anyone – pornography, for example, is not permitted) to create a social network that meets the needs of a particular membership. Visual appearance is up to the decision of the network designer (templates exist to help in this) and gateways to Facebook and Twitter make the group’s communications with the outside world easier.
Programming is in PHP and the platform runs on Java. There’s an iPhone interface and an iOS application. And this is where Blendapps comes in, because most people who entertain vague thoughts that it would be nice to have their own social network never go further than those thoughts because as soon as they hear words like PHP, Java and iOS they decide that they could not do that. With Blendapps, they can.