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Tools That Disappear

April 19, 2010

Salutary lesson here. Be careful about the tools you become accustomed to or even dependent upon because, whilst a hammer or a screwdriver can always be replaced an online tool often can not be replaced so easily if it disappears or moves beyond your reach.

This is what seems to be happening with NING, a highly popular multi media social networking tool.

The social network NING is intending to go PREMIUM only. The announcement from the new CEO (whilst cutting the Ning workforce by 40%) seems quite stark, “pay for premium services or migrate off the network”, I’ve used NING quite a bit and I know other community informatics/community media projects do too. Of course no-one said Ning is going away and all you have to do is pay (not sure how much yet) to keep your network. However, I hear warning bells and I’m considering alternatives as are many people.

This seems a shame because the enclosed nature of Ning and it’s multi media capabilities seemed ideal for Community Media groups. Whilst I don’t think any provider HAS to give their services for free this has been the business model of NING for several years and they’ve built up a client base on the strength of it that they are now going to disenfranchise. I think they may see a damaging backlash.

I’m thinking of using BuddyPress with a WordPress installation and import my main Ning users there. I’ll write up the steps in a wiki and link from here.

Some links below of alternatives other folks are suggesting. Some of them look quite possible but I’m not sure I want to go down the route of committing my users to something that might disappear which is why I’m looking into self hosting.
There is a google doc here _ (warning this might clog up your browser)

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