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Marc Andreessen's Social Platform: Ning 134

An anonymous reader writes "As reported on SiliconBeat, Marc Andreessen has finally lifted the covers off his latest project: an applications structure called Ning, which makes the development of social websites like and more accessible. See TheGlu and Dating for examples of Ning in action."
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Marc Andreessen's Social Platform: Ning

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe someone can be createive and come up with some useful applications for it.
    • How about nerd dating? []

      Why does it ask you for your gender?
    • Once Google's Orkut [] comes out of beta, oh, man. It'll be like Friendster and Tribe and OKCupid and all put together but with amazingly leet JavaScript.

      But it won't be evil.
      • Orkut to me is dead. It was horribly maintained, the inerface wasn't that good, and the invite-only nature didn't bring many people on(*)

        (*) Exception: Every single citizen of Brazil, who insisted on making at least one post in every community(whether it had nohting to do with Brazil) asking if there were other Brazilians on there. Mind you, Myspace is full of fake accounts and shirtless chavs, and breaks every 5 hours, but it's better than Orkut.
        • orkut is like some perverse portugese party that you get invited to by some bi-lingual person with a vauge interest in a few people ther that are also bi lingual so you get dragged along and spend the entire time confused by people you dont understand!

          that said... if orkut wasnt full of all these MILLIONS of brazillian groups it might be better. But its still damn good :)
        • Flickr is experiencing a similar problem, only now the issue is with people from the UAE crossposting their photos to millions of unrelated groups, then whining about why noone leaves comments on their photos.
        • I never did see the point of Orkut. Lets ignore the bugs and interface. It was basicly a series of forums. Thats all it was. What does it give us that we can't do for ourselves with fewer problems on geocities, or whatever the free hosting of the week is now?
        • I think the above is a joke.
    • You're actually making a bigger, better point than even you might realize, because you've touched on a major issue that's affected the world of research today. The problem is that people forget that the purpose of research is to satisfy human desires. You may have a very roundabout way of doing that, but you should never forget that as a final goal. If you can't stop at any time and answer the question "How will this give people what they want?" ... you're probably wasting valuable resources on the research
    • I wonder why all of them are called 'social'. Yes you can communicate wit people, but finally it is all asynchronous communication. I wonder why they do not actually show people on these pages and services. There is virtual presence. I beg you social service providers, please make people aware of each other while they are on the page. This would make the service really social. Users could meet each other live, while they are there. I don't dare posting a URL, because it sounds like an ad. Search google for
  • theGLU is taking a short break. Back later!

  • Imposter Boy (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13721252)
    Everything you need to know is in this article [].

    Netscape always controlled the media when it came to the story about how the browser was first built. This is the only article that I've ever seen that actually went back to the place where it was created to find out the real story.

    History is written by the victors.... Even if that "history" isn't true.

    • Re:Imposter Boy (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wow, that just reads like a lot of bitterness. I wonder if the journalist is peeved that Marc blew off his questions. You could rewrite the article to use complimentary terms instead of critical ones, and the facts would remain the same, but it would appear almost praiseworthy of Marc. For example:

      Then Andreessen used the prototype as a ploy for recruiting a colleague named Eric Bina to team up with him.

      A ploy? Really? Like Andreessen lured Eric into an evil scheme? The author could have written "

      • And in addition, the article reads like it was written by a sixth-grader. Grammatical mistakes, missing pronouns, blatant typos... typical garbage you find on the WWW. Tough to take it seriously, even if you give him the benefit of the doubt on his facts and subjectivity.
  • So, uhm, where is the "Chicks for Sysadmins/C Programmers" section?
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:56AM (#13721257) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, I just can't take Marc Andressen seriously.
    • Autopr0n is, like, down and stuff.

      Yeah, man, for like a year now. God I miss you. What the hell happened -- Thousands of horny geeks' underwear have just begun to dry out, and they need some relief. You took down your page, I stopped writing sex in Thailand stories... What's the world coming to?
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:57AM (#13721262)
    This seems like the sort of market where perhaps one or two major sites is all that is needed. First of all, you'll get the widest slice of the community with only a few major providers, rather than a few hundred smaller, more specific sites with a far smaller proportion of the population subscribed.

    So while there could be a site for UNIX aficionados, and another for horse lovers, it'd be difficult to find somebody interested in both UNIX and horses when the smaller, specific sites are common. Both people could be listed in the more general, and larger, site. And thus it'd be easier to query for those interested in both UNIX and horses at once.

    • The problem with having only a few sources of information is that us folks are humans, not ants, bees, or any other form of social creature that needs only a minimal amount of information (ant:location->picnic, bees:location->flowers).

      The voice of the majority is not the voice of the all, and when our information comes from only a few sources, those sources quickly take on the vanilla flavor of the majority and are also the most easily subverted to what is acceptable to the movers and shakers AKA powe

    • The problem isn't the numebr of websites, it's the inability of social websites to mesh together. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to link to my friends on orkut from friendster and vice versa. There's also no reason a search on orkut can't pull results from friendster, and again, vice versa. If social sites could agree on a shared interface, they could all play together.
      • But many of these sites are also businesses, and it makes no sense for them to provide business to their direct competitors. It would be like Amazon referring you to Barnes & Noble if you cannot find the book you're looking for at Amazon.

        • Ah, the "Miracle on 34th Street" Theory...
        • But many of these sites are also businesses, and it makes no sense for them to provide business to their direct competitors. It would be like Amazon referring you to Barnes & Noble if you cannot find the book you're looking for at Amazon.
          I disagree. As a better comparison, think about telecoms: users of a telecom do are allowed to call users of other telecoms, with an agreement on a proper compensation model between telecoms.
          • And it took federal regulation to make that happen. interoperability is a pipe dream.
            • And it took federal regulation to make that happen. interoperability is a pipe dream.

              Federal regulation? ROTFL. Are you aware that there are telephones, lo and behold, also outside USA? And telecoms interoperability works more or less in the same way, fwik. I don't have exact & complete knowledge of all trade agreement among all telecoms in the world, but I do suspect that not all of them are required by some law but simply emerged from the need of the (paying & complaining) users to contact oth

              • This is from faded memory and no doubt wrong in particulars, but the general drift is more or less correct ... I hope!

                Way back, 100 years ago, AT&T played very rough. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of independent telephone systems. They were so independent as to even have different voltages and other vital specs. Yet somehow they managed to work with each other. AT&T began a buying spree, and if some local indepenent telco did not want to sell out to AT&T, they would refuse to connect
              • I thought you were talking about telcos and CLECs in the USA after the Telecomm Act. my mistake.
          • Most of these services are free, and I don't see advertising revenue being shared; it's small enough as it is.

            However, the FOAF standard currently exposed by some profiles might help with this.

        • It would be like Amazon referring you to Barnes & Noble if you cannot find the book you're looking for at Amazon.

          This isn't a bad marketing/customer relations technique. Look at the insurance companies that ADVERTISE they will compare their rates with other companies. When I used to work at an autoparts store we used to call all over town to try to find a part for a customer if we didn't have it on hand. We would often refer customers to our competitors. The idea was that we were servicing the cu
      • The beauty of it is, if you can't find a social network site which meshes you can create your *own* social network site and...

        Oh, wait.
      • I've been working on open source software that solves that problem. None of the current systems in place will bother, because they want everybody to go to one website. Because I'm releasing my source, I don't want everybody on one website. I want every website to work together. []
    • How much wider a slice could you want? As of 10:18 AM Eastern, the search turns up a single female in the 18-99 age range.
    • I disagree. If you wanted to start a network of evironmentalists this would be great. Or of a counter-popular network. Anything that wouldn't want to group themselves with a site like thefacebook -- not to mention that they might want to have a more professional, and closed, system.
      • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:38AM (#13722108)
        I dunno. I get a "danger will robinson" reaction to that thought, and my tail gets all bushy.

        We're already so divided and conquered and fractured. Specialized dating sites may cause all the politico/ideologico groups to start exclusively inbreeding until we're just a disconnected sea of tribes that don't even speak the same language.

        I'm being silly, but only a little.

    • unix and horses

      and I thought I've seen pr0n on all the weird fetishes
    • Great, just what the world needs. MORE web sites for people looking to cheat on their significant others.
  • by SteveX ( 5640 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @08:58AM (#13721270) Homepage
    Looks like a great way for folks who don't know much about the underlying tech to experiment with web apps. Best part of it is you can take any existing application, clone it, and you instantly have the start of a new app that you can customize.

    It's cool to hear Andreessen is behind it; this gives it a little more legitimacy than it would otherwise have (ie, less likely to disappear thanks to not having a business model).

    The innovation is in new stuff, not in ripoffs of existing sites.. will be interesting to watch whether Ning will really make this possible.
    • by Bad to the Ben ( 871357 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:10AM (#13721362)
      It's cool to hear Andreessen is behind it; this gives it a little more legitimacy than it would otherwise have (ie, less likely to disappear thanks to not having a business model).

      Why? Didn't Netscape mostly disappear? Admittedly, it was more due to Netscape sucking and having their business model conquered by MS free giveaways than not having a business model.
      The innovation is in new stuff, not in ripoffs of existing sites.. will be interesting to watch whether Ning will really make this possible.
      Don't count on it. The entire point of this "Ning" (stupid name) thing is to make it EASIER for other people to rip off existing social sites and start their own. IMHO and observations, the really innovative sites are developed by people using their own tools, because prepackaged sets like this one tend to limit what they can do to the preconceptions of whoever created the tools. Slashdot with it's "Slashcode" is a good example. Slashdot was innovative, but all the sites based off it aren't really. There are exceptions, of course.
      • Why? Didn't Netscape mostly disappear? Admittedly, it was more due to Netscape sucking and having their business model conquered by MS free giveaways than not having a business model.
        Hubris and having the wrong business model helped. The original model was to sell servers, the client was almost a giveaway in the beginning. Then they became the darling of the tech industry and wall street, decided to battle Microsoft head on (the infamous "reduce windows to a set of poorly debugged device drivers" quote).

  • by Afecks ( 899057 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:01AM (#13721295)
    Interested in Meeting People for: Dating Men

    Is somebody having a little fun [] with CmdrTaco?
  • I get a redirect loop on all three web sites. Are they Internet-Explorer-only, or what?
  • by cpuh0g ( 839926 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:04AM (#13721317)
    Besides scoring alot of stock options when Netscape went public, has this guy ever done anything that has actually been a success?

    I think every business he tried to start since leaving Netscape have bombed.

    Color me unimpressed by lucky Mark's business acumen.

  • Looks like he's hit upon the next great business plan for web sites -- getting geeks hitched! No but seriously, social networking probably is going to be a mushrooming web-based industry, but so far, I haven't seen a lot of imagination given to how one can meet and extend one's social network online. The last great revolution in this sphere was Instant Messaging/Text Messaging, which has seriously taken off Europe and Asia (and to a lesser degree in the US). But as far as web sites go, I haven't seen anyt
  • duh, here's the link to the product's website:
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:13AM (#13721387)
    I'm not sure what dialect of Chinese they speak in Shanghai, but when I was there for business several years back I do recall seeing an incident involving the word "ning".

    I think there were some young adults playing football (soccer, for you American folk) on a side street, and one of them got kicked in his genitals. I recall his friends yelling "NING! repeatedly. Does "ning" refer to the genitals themselves, or is it just part of a Chinese phrase used when genital injuries occur? Is it like the "kicked" in "You just got kicked in the nuts!" or is it the "nuts"?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thank goodness for this - "Hot or Not" was just not fulfilling the needs of my online social group. A specialized version is just what we needed!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So how the heck do they think they're going to profit from this? So now every single person on planet earth with an Internet connection can create their own social networking website. That just made all these websites worthless.

    This whole Web 2.0 thing is a huge bubble. Everyday a new, supposedly Web 2.0 app comes out. Out of all these apps, do they think they'll be able to capture a large audience? All they get is 15 minutes of fame and then die out sitting in the corner of the Internet collecting dust. VC
  • by freddej ( 122902 ) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:27AM (#13721482) Homepage
    The first blog comment on siliconbeat said it all:
    "My first reaction, not knowing that this was an Andreesen site, was "gee, these apps are derivative". Come on, Bulldogster? And how many applications do we actually need to tell us about restaurants in Palo Alto?"
  • by wjzhu ( 712748 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:33AM (#13721531) Journal
    The best musicians may not build their own instruments, and the best film makers and photographers may not build their own cameras. Currently social network sites are created only by those with significant technical ability. Now with Ning, the tools are built and ready for social-artists to use: people with great social-IQ can develop some amazing social webtools that we may not yet imagined.
  • I posted about Ning yesterday: []

    An excerpt:

    Ning allows user/authors to set up permanent URLs to their apps, which take the form I imagine there will be a bit of an initial landgrab as cybersquatters grab up some of the more obvious ones. It would be nice if Ning had a policy in place to deal with this, but I imagine, with a project this ambitious, their plates are pretty full -- and this leads to what I think is the most flawed aspect of this idea -- it's just too damn b
  • by horza ( 87255 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:37AM (#13721569) Homepage
    There is a very comprehensive FAQ section on the Ning Homepage []. Ning appears to be a social app framework written in PHP, hoping to do for social apps much what PHPNuke did for online magazines. It uses its own template language XNHTML, but it's not like developers aren't expected to learn a new one each week these days. It makes it easy to click-and-clone apps, much like Blogger makes it easy to set up your own blog. The business plan is to try and offer a premium service and make money off the back of that. They are clear that you own and code and content that you write, but don't have any license I can see of the framework itself. This is something I'd like to see be made clear. I'd be wary developing something where the rug could be pulled out from under me.

  • They use some interesting statistical clustering algorithms to determine who might be a reasonable match with who.

  • Hey! you forgot to mention everyones favorite GPL orkut-like social tool: Yogurt []
  • by Erisynne ( 10654 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:46AM (#13721637) Homepage
    My company was contracted to work on Ning, and we've been doing it for over 3 months. It makes me a bit sad that everyone seems to be missing the point of what makes Ning truly great.

    It's the data. The SHARED data. It's an ecosystem, not just a platform or a hosted framework. Ning is much greater than any individual application, and I personally don't think that the true popularity will come from the dating applications. Ning's much bigger than any given application (and by that I mean piece of software and application as in "the way it's used"), and it's not a mega app. It's an app playground.

    See my blog post on the subject: s-startup-launches []
    • by donnacha ( 161610 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:44AM (#13722614) Homepage
      Hi Amy, having read both your blog post and Ning's voluminous FAQ, I see a major road-block to the series adoption of Ning as anything more than a playground, one that will see thousands of abandoned, short-lived experiments - a sort of sourceforge of social websites.

      That road-block is money: the admins, who are expected to invest time energy in tailoring their Ning-based websites to their target audience and then generating enough buzz/awareness to build the necessary momentum and userbase to actually make their websites useful, are not allowed to include any adverts because Andreessen & Co will already be inserting ads and explain that "don't look warmly upon more than one person running ads on an App or a page".

      The real zinger, however, is that they helpfully suggest that you integrate Paypal and charge for your service. It's not hard to see that most apps that build any traction will turn to this option as the only way to gain some reward for their efforts and, obviously, to build a wall around their service/retain exclusive value, will default to tag their data as "private", killing the whole shared data eco-system concept.

      I found your Rails articles a few months ago interesting, I'm surprised that you don't considered that a much better route for anyone with the imagination to invent new Web apps.

      • Donnacha,

        You may be right. Nobody can tell at this point whether or not Ning will succeed, or succeed for long, more importantly. Whether this spark of interest will last, or not. I'm optimistic, but I also recognize that I'm just a teensy bit biased :) That said, I didn't design the system, and there certainly are things I'd do differently. I still think it's an intriguing idea, being run by people who care about it. We'll just have to see.
    • Ning is an example of something I've been calling a Blank White Server []. It taps into the wisdom of crowds to create a sort of uber-application that has many facets but all built upon the same social network, the same tag system, the same capabilities (API/developer produced libs). Some ideas about BWSs:
      • You won't have to rebuild your social network when you sign up with a new web app (or your any other aspects of your profile).
      • You'll be able to create mashups of your favorite web apps.
      • You'll be able to
  • by Washizu ( 220337 ) <> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:18AM (#13721910) Homepage
    I checked it out yesterday and finally got one of theor limited developer accounts. So far it's kind of neat. I was able to clone a "this or that" type app and set it up to answer the age old question:

    Which is the coolest? Robots, Aliens, Pirates or Ninjas?

    Check it out [].

  • This seems like just another company offering to be the engine for lots of dating sites.

    What we really want, if our goal is interoperability, is something similar to the FoaF [] project's RDF description framework for describing people, then using technology to match them up.

    In fact, using something like FoaF, we can describe people in more than the "29 dimensions of compatibility"- we can look at things like interests, where they blog, geography, etc.

    • It seems y'all are missing the mark. There are API provisions and bandwidth allotment for app-to-app connectivity. It the applications that are social, not necessarily the developers or users. I'm intrigued.
  • by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:45AM (#13722619) Homepage
    In actually signing up real and attractive people to actually date. That part of "Social Engineering" is beyond the scope of the Internet.
  • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:34PM (#13723983) Homepage
    we don't let you run your own ads from third party ad networks, such as Google AdSense

    Poof! Widespread adoption peters out right there.

  • A friend of a friend was strongly involved in this, so I've had so time to look into it. First off, social networking based apps strongly benefit from a shared userbase and a shared tag library. Ning provides both to an developer. Well structured apps also get the benefit of sharing data, such as, where all pets are aggregated, but anyone can make a site geared toward a specific breed. Not only to you build a closer community, but every new entry added at your specialized app adds value to
  • So I create a Ning developer beta account and sign in, and happen to scroll the page down to the bottom just to see what's there. Lo and behold, in big orange-brown letters in the Featured Apps section, I see "Got MILF? []" as a featured site.

    I didn't realize Liv Tyler had a kid. Don't worry, other than the name it appears worksafe.
  • if there is no NCSA work to rip off, how will it be any good?
  • If there are alternatives, it's a bad idea to build any kind of revenue making site that depends in an essential way on software and/or infrastructure provided by a small startup.

    Are there alternatives? As far as I can tell, there are. In fact, a general purpose content management system like Drupal already has a lot of "social networking" features, and they are open and server-to-server. I see no compelling reason to put Ning in the loop for something like that.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.