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Yet another social networking application

November 12th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am thoroughly bored with Facebook now. An endless wall of twitters. I am totally indifferent that Brian Kelly added the Where I have Been application, that 5 of my friends were tagged in an album or that Emma Duke Williams joined the group A Cup of Tea Solves Everything. Sorry. Perhaps I am just an anti-social heartless being. But I don’t care. Mind, it is strange. As much as Facebook status updates annoy me, I like the same feature on skype. That Ben is at ‘Coffee time’, Martin ‘is buzzing’ and Lawrie is ‘overrun by ferrets’ seems to add to my day. I can’t really explain it.

S, time to move on to something new. I have just opened an account with Ning. I know I’m probably being slow – I’m sure you have all already got Ning accounts.

Ironically I only opened the account because Michelle De Craene invited me to join a group she had set up: ‘Remixing History: The International Techohistorian Project‘. Ironically – because she invited me through Facebook. So, tehre is some use for it after all.

Anyway I like the idea of being a Techohistorian – perhaps I should put that on my business card. And although there is not much there yet the idea sounds good to me – “This project is to encourage educators to take on the role of historian in sharing technological advances.”

Back to Ning – had a play around. Seems very easy to set up groups, teh interface is clean and attractive and appearance can be fairly quickly customised. I could see me using it for quick ad-hoc groups around an event or a course. And indeed, my friends from UOC have set up a group to continue discussions around the recent inspiring UOC Unesco International seminar.

The problem I see with it is the opposite of Facebook. There is little or no potential or functionaility for social networking. Unless I am missing something you can set up or join groups. Thats it, full stop. And for that metter, the my groups page isn’t working properly for me – it only displays one of the three groups I am a member of, having grown up on Elgg, I am used to being able to link up with others based on their interests, to manage feeds in and out and to configure my own page through Widgets. Ning has none of this.

I suppose I am just a moaner. But there has to be some half way house. Trouble is that much as I love social networking software we are not in teh driving seat, we are evlauting other peoples designs and development to see what use we can make of it. That is why I am still excited by Freefolio – at least in hacking WordPress we can react to real needs as we find them, rather than telling people what they need is what the software provides.

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