A couple of years back, I started to play with Marc Andreessen‘s Ning.com. At that time it provided a very interesting hosted service for creating a wide range of mash-up sites. Ning provided developers with a set of templated PHP web sites that could be customized for different markets and users. I did a little development, but didn’t have time to really do much more than experiment.
At the end of February Ning transformed itself, and began to focus on becoming a hosted “turn-key” social network provider. They are still allowing developers to get into the code and create custom modifications and additions, but now even the average user can create an account at Ning, and very quickly create their own custom social network.
I was reminded of all of this last week, when a friend of mine showed me the site he put together in no time … WakeUtah … a site for Utah Wakeboarders. When I saw that, I decided to spend an hour or two this weekend and get back up to date with Ning. I have to admit that although it’s a little thin in places, they have done an incredible job. I still had my old Ning account – which still worked – and I logged in and within an hour had learned what I needed and created UtahNetwork … the Utah Entrepreneur Network.
I have found a few things that I think are weak with the default features of Ning … but I’m sure that they are going to continue to evolve and enhance the platform. Some of the immediate features that I found lacking are:
- Events – there is no event calendar that I could find
- Blog Aggregator – I couldn’t find a component that would pull from numerous RSS feeds
- Google Maps – they used to have some great tools for doing Google Maps mash-ups … this seems to have faded
Overall, I am very impressed … you are welcome to go and check out my site. I hope that you do check it out for multiple reasons. First, I’d like some feedback on thoughts about the Ning platform. Secondly, I’d like to see if there is some value that we could create in forming a Utah Entrepreneur Network where we can communicate and exchange information about entrepreneurial activities going on in the state. Take a look, create an account, and try it out!