For those who have been asleep, educate yourself on Ning, the up-and- coming social network platform. It allows anybody to create their own free full featured network and it’s no harder than creating a blog on blogger. Of course, as people find out, the mere act of creating a ning space doesn’t mean you will instantly be the monarch of a thriving community, any more than creating a blog guarantees that you’ll have thousands of adoring fans worldwide and rake in the chips. Ning is in its infancy. I built a Ning network a few months ago with a local focus, but it wasn’t my primary focus, and I’m not stupid enough to have expected it to grow exponentially without serious marketing. My primary focus at the time was my own home-grown calendar aggregator.
But then everything changed…
Ning announces events
About two months ago, Ning came out with support for events. Think about it. Here’s little old me, all alone with no money, out in the sticks where angel funding rarely happens, and never to someone like me. I was beavering away diligently on my project — built on a tiny home grown lightweight framework, with rather gnarly coupling problems, and stuck on legacy PHP4 until just recently. On the other hand, here’s Ning, with millions in funding and up to 20th place already in social networks
Reinventing the wheel is dumb
I’m a backend girl. I much prefer to make the engine work. I am painfully aware that usability is critical, but it’s just not my forte. Usability takes ages. Usability testing takes dollars. Usability takes resources, which I’m clearly short on. And for Ning, usability is a solved problem: Ning already has general usability going for it. I’d much rather use theirs than make my own from scratch.
Leveraging is smart
Admittedly, in raw functionality, Ning’s initial events offering was not a patch on my custom system, namely, quite skeletal events, a very dodgy system for cataloging venues, and no repeating events support. NOT YET. I had feeder buttons, includer buttons, and even was working on a color customization feature. But my system, for all its power, never caught fire, due mainly to usability issues. So why not leverage the tested usability of Ning and meld my calendaring features into their platform? It’s a win/win. I get to work entirely on the back end where I like to be and let Ning deal with those pesky usability issues.
Not the world’s easiest API
Ning’s API (Application Programming Interface) has quite a learning curve. Each time you delve into the “exchanging bodily fluids” level with a new software platform, there is going to be some pain, but no matter how painful it is, it can’t compare to the overwhelming task of doing everything from scratch. When I have built something that works, I’ll post the links to my project. Please leave a sympathetic comment or offer some encouragement if you have any tips to offer. Peace,