Social networking is very popular today and many digital natives have joined large social sites like MySpace and Facebook. Thanks to the recent explosion of Web 2.0 development, it is now possible to create your own social network around specific interests even though you have limited technical knowledge and skills. Ning is one of the free online services where you can create, customize, and share your own Social Network. The best part of Ning is that anyone can create their own fully functional and customized social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific audiences.
Once you sign up a Ning account, you can create your own social network by choosing one of customizable themes and templates from Ning. Then, you decide whether it is for public or private and customize how it looks and add your own network logo. Also, you can customize your site by selecting a combination of features (music, videos, blogs, photos, forums, groups, RSS, etc.) from a list of options. Members who join your network will automatically have a customizable profile page and will be able to message and friend each other.
For the past few months, I have joined several Ning networks such as Classroom 2.0 and Online Teaching. Also, I have created two Ning networks – one is created for my family and another one is designed for my graduate class for instructional purpose. My family network on Ning is doing great and the young members love it by frequently exchanging photos, videos, slideshows, and comments. I will officially launch my graduate class network on Ning in two weeks and cannot wait to see my students’ responses. So far, I am very impressed with Ning. I think it is a terrific Web 2.0 application that allows anyone to create social networks. Ning has excellent functionality and user-friendly interface that allows even the most novice of Web users to create their own highly customized social network in minutes.