Ning: The Marmite of Social Networks.

You love it or loathe it.

I’ve recently read several posts singing the praises of Ning. I’ve had an account on it for quite some time & I’ve yet to learn to love it in the way that some do.

It does have some very good points – quite a lot in fact:

  • It’s very easy to set up.
  • It’s free (or commercial, if you choose) – though those teaching 13-18 year olds can have an ad-free version for free.
  • It’s possible to have a very private network – which can give educators the privacy they need – especially for that 13-18 age group.
  • It can be customisable – so different Nings can look different.
  • Within a Ning, it’s possible to have forums, individual blogs etc.

So, why don’t I like it?

Well, it’s really the fact that it creates separate Nings. So, I can join several Nings, and people in one need never know I’m in another. But, *I* know, and I’d really quite like to have an easy way to see an overview of my life in all my social networks.

From an educational point of view – especially at Higher Education, all too often the structure of both the modularised curriculum, and then the VLE on top of that, encourages siloisation of learning. If we then create a Ning to support each subject – we’ll then have further siloisation of learning.

Other SNSs – such as Facebook & Elgg, make it possible for the user to see their overall activity in all their communities – but to customise (particularly in Elgg) who can see what.

My other bug bear with Ning, is that even with the communities hosted on Ning, I have to login to each one. I can’t login once & see them all. OK, so I have Firefox set to remember passwords, so it’s just a case of clicking, but I still have to do it!

So, I’m afraid that, despite several attempts to get over it & indeed, membership of several Nings (not visited that often) I just can’t see myself ever getting into the Love it camp.

Maybe, were I teaching younger students, then I might see a use; especially at class level (rather than subject level), but for me, and for what I’m teaching, it just doens’t do anything.

6 thoughts on “Ning: The Marmite of Social Networks.

  1. I hear where you’re coming from…. However…. I think you have it wrong.

    I love / hate Ning too. But not for those reasons…

    Here’s why:

    In one single Ning netowork, you can create GROUPS. I think that’s what you want. A Group within one single Ning network functions much like it’s own little network. You have separate membership. It can be private or public. And you can control access, or leave it open for all to join.

    The problem I have with Ning is that it is a CLOSED PROPRIETARY system. If, heaven forbid, you ever get upset with Ning, or they stop liking you…. You are screwed.

    This has just happened within the past few weeks. Thousands of networks on Ning — with thousands of members in each network — were given about 4 weeks notice that they would be deleted… Yes, deleted! Due to Ning “changing its mind” about its own Terms of Service.

    So… Ning changes its policies…. and YOUR network gets deleted.

    At the time of the announcement, to make matters worse, they offered no means for exporting your data even… But that makes little difference anyway… Where are you going to migrate NING DATA to anyway…?

    It’s closed. It’s proprietary. You are TOTALLY at their mercy.

    At least with Elgg…. YOU own you own data. If your hosting company gets upset with you….. or vice versa.. Pack up your entire site and move it. Within minutes… The users might never even notice a thing!

    By the way….

    Today I registered the domain http://ElggForum.com in hopes of providing another place for the Elgg User Community to discuss, get support, commune, etc. I should have it set up momentarily.

    It takes a good 10 minutes to install Elgg with GoDaddy’s One-Click “Quick Install Apps” button. The good thing is.. it’s all automated. I literally click one button. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Pingback: - Are You Riled Up? - » Blog Archive » Blogging it and Education ยป Blog Archive ยป Ning : the Marmite of …

  3. So I’ve introduced you to the cultural icon that’s Marmite, Bruce! Most non-Brits loathe it! The Aussies have their own (inferior to us poms) alternative in Vegemite. The rest of the world think that collectively we have weird taste buds!

    I can see where you’re coming from on the “groups”, that would work with education related Nings in HE, but it wouldn’t help students who want to join an Education related Ning, but also have a huge interest in Dr. Who & want to join the community their friend (from another Uni) has set up. They can in Facebook. In Ning, they’d have to re-login.

    I’m not sure how the export/import in Ning compares to Facebook … I know that one reason I don’t really like Facebook is its blackhole-ness … that it’s much easier to get data into it than out of it. I’ve been reading about FAcebook Connect recently, though as far as i can tell, it still focusses more on Facebook maintaining your data & just using it elsewhere, rather than migrating it, but I could be maligning them, I’ve not read enough about it.

    I’ll go join your forum, anyway.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. Hey all,

    Great article ! You guys should try SocialGO. It’s the new kid on the block and looks very promising. It’s by the guys behind Lara Croft and Tomb Raider… so clearly there’s some serious backing… Anyway I’ve been running my network with them and although there still in Beta, it’s all pretty cool…
    Yeah, there are some glitches but the support is pretty darn awsome and the site itself, the customazation and tools are great…

    Peter
    http://www.socialgo.com

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