I find NING social networking sites useful and a way of having industry / topic specific type of sites rather than the broad-brush approach of Facebook. (I keep thinking of opening multiple Facebook accounts for different interests so that friends in one area don't bore the pants off those in others - as happens when they are all plonked together as on Facebook now. The trouble is the need for the same number of different email accounts).
Ning provided this - you can be a member of multiple Ning networks and ensure that interests are segregated.
How will this impact successful and active groups such as this one. Will the continuity be there if you need to pay a small sum to be a member. Of course active members won't mind paying a small subscription. However it's important to have the less active people involved too - so that the CI profession can be seen to be inclusive rather than exclusive. We need the outreach factor which Ning offers (and SCIP demonstrably doesn't unfortunately). There are many in our field who are tangentially involved and so want to show a presence but may not want to pay for this. How do we keep them involved and active? Or do we kiss them goodbye as time-wasters and skinflints?
Thanks for prompting this discussion Arthur - I miss you my friend - it's been too long.
I've received a number of concerned messages from members asking if there was a hat to pass around to keep the site going - to which, I've replied that, while I'm not clear as to the specific paid plans available from Ning in future, this site is technically a paid site by virtue of my ghosting the www.CI2020.com domain to it awhile back and paying the associated $4.95/month (or rather, the bargain price of $50 for the year) - so, I *THINK* we're probably safe (for the moment).
That said, I'm eagerly investigating exporting tools for Ning sites to alternative socnet platforms and that's certainly on the table as an option as well - Buddypress (running on Wordpress), DrupalGardens (currently in beta from Acquia running on Drupal) and JomSocial (running on Joomla) cover various alternatives for us from the open source world and would give us a pretty scalable platform for collaboration going forward whichever direction we go, since all three are LAMP stack systems with deep developer communities. So, as they say...
Mater Artium Necessitas
We might find, if we depart from the status quo, yet again, we can come up with something surprisingly new. That's the spirit that launched this site two years ago and the Intel Collab movement a few months back. I hope we can adopt a new saying:
There's always the alternative of joining the SCIP Linkedin Group, http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=68320 which is an open practitioner group, and many of you are already members. Arthur, I'm glad to see that you've started contributing to discussions there.
Not the first time - although I've contributed nothing for a while. (Too much work!). I also post on LinkedIn when something catches my attention.
I agree 100% that the LinkedIn group is useful. However it lacks the social aspects of Ning. It's great for discussions - but Ning offers a bit more e.g. online chat, photos, videos, a blog facility, etc. I see Ning as more like Facebook and so it allows a greater level of social interaction than LinkedIn. For me, LinkedIn is an essential business tool for networking with all sorts of people - not just CI. The SCIP LinkedIn group is important for this. Ning is a fun site to hang out with friends.
I guess you could view it as the difference between the party where only close colleagues and friends hang out (Ning) versus the club event where you have to be if you want to make business connections, and so have to be on your best behaviour. You wear jeans and a tatty T-shirt on Ning, but a suit and tie on LinkedIn.
I really liked the following summary of today's social networking sites:
Facebook is who you used to know, LinkedIn is who you know, Twitter is who would want to know
The nice thing about all these groups, both old school and digital, is that they have different purposes that overlap. This site is great for keeping relationships going, and I like the traditional, in-person speaker meetings with cocktails and light appetizers as well - that's where you can actually meet people and start real relationships. Group blogs are great, though I look forward to more academic publishing as well. You can have affinity groups and professional societies working side-by-side.
It's kind of a golden age for socialization, both personal and professional. If Ning goes away or becomes punishingly expensive, no doubt there is another way to digitally unite these people who enjoy both intelligence, and each others' insights.
Couldn't agree more! Like most of us, I think, I've become pretty platform-agnostic these days - it's not so much the system that runs your conversations, or even the context that accompanies that system as you describe, it's what happens there with people you care about and the content of the ideas they have to share.
I recently decoupled my Twitter account from my Facebook account and tweeted this morning how I forgot Facebook was even there without a stream of input that drove comments back to me, but those comments usually consisted of "HUH?!" in response to my intelligence-y cross-posting. Most of the people I used to know who are now most of my Facebook contacts don't have a clue what I do or what I'm talking about when I tweet. In that respect, I'm guessing Facebook didn't miss me much either ;-)
Finally, understanding the degree of openness is a major part of the social dynamic that shouldn't be underestimated either. Part of the magic comes from knowing and respecting the rules of the engagement on each forum with regard to what and how to post, but I'll admit that I feel a LOT freer to express myself where there are fewer such rules applied.
Maybe that's one reason why Twitter is more akin to old-school blogging? Nobody can tell you what to tweet or blog about since it's exclusively your voice crying out in the wilderness of the Web, but moderated forums such as Ning and Facebook have implicit (if not explicit) administrative rules that accompany their moderation.
In many ways, LinkedIn groups are the most freewheeling of this breed since there is no standard of commentary implied - each group's rules are made by the members (or admin) themselves. That said, of the 46 LinkedIn groups I'm a member of (I just got the warning yesterday that 50 is the limit) I can say with some confidence that most of it is pretty irrelevant to my circumstances.
I find nings allow for better drill downs into topics and allow for community discussions beyond the typical 140 Twitter characters. I started one for a group of DoD Industry professionals because we wanted to take our discussion out of the general public. http://defenseindustryproviders.ning.com/