Monday, October 12, 2009

Much of my learning in Week 4 of my EDU 651 Ashford U. course has been about reflecting upon various accounts we have set up in Ning, Facbook and PBWiki. I have chosen to blog today about what nings mean to me. Be sure to visit my ning in the links to the right to learn more about "ninging."

Ning Pros and Cons

To begin with an analogy, a ning is like a fraternity house where there are common living areas but also each resident has his own customized bedroom which he can decorate (or not) to his heart’s content. He can use any theme or props to develop his bedroom culture and he can invite or restrict any and all visitors. At the same time, he can go into the common areas and engage people there (or not) subject to the general culture of the house.
Nings seem to be about this interplay between public and private spaces and interactions. Nings enhance dialogue with their threads and interest forums. Nings hold on to individual contributions even if they are not embraced by other participants. They seem more naturally true to an actual conversation that two or more people might have. Whereas a vocal conversation must be held within the minds of the participants, nings keep track of conversations textually and graphically and hold them up for all to see and recall. They can even link different conversations and synthesize new thoughts from them. The inherent structure of a ning is conversation. Content flows out of the contributions that the conversation brings about.
People seem to like the autonomy that nings provide. I can build a personal network of conversation about the topics that are most important to me, yet have the structure and organizing support of a generalized ning above and around me. I’m tied to a general audience by common ideas and preferences, but I can also create my own thought and social space. Nings also allows you to design your group (forum) any way you want with features that usually differ from other groups. Ning facilitates unrestricted movement off of and onto the site to other locations like blogs or wikis. You can even export these features to other outside websites (slideshows) and make portals (badges) that direct potential members to your ning from outside the site. Ning tools and apps are like those of a fine woodworker: exacting, elegant, and well thought –out. Ning’s goal seems to be to expand its social network off their site and out into the Web. They want Ning = Web in the user’s mind.

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