Ning: A Bionomic versus Command-and-Control approach to technology development

10 Oct 2005|Leigh Marinner

What is interesting about the new website Ning, from Marc Andreessen’s latest company 24 Hour Laundry, is that they are putting out tools to see what develops as consumers use the site. This is similar to what happened with the original SimCity, where players developed their own cities and posted them for other to use. Or currently with Second Life where a real dollar market in the online currency Lindendollars was developed by users. It would be nice to see other developers take a similar approach in some of these areas – throw some things out and let them develop from the bottom up, rather than using a top down planned approach. This seems to be what Google is doing. In these cutting edge areas of technology, I don’t think anyone can foresee what will happen and which will be the “killer apps”.

Ning is described as a free online service for building “social applications.” Company executives refer to Ning as a “playground” for creating content, such as photos and reviews, and sharing that information to connect with other people. The Ning site hosts these “social applications” and gives Web developers tools to make it easy for developers to build whatever app they want for any topic, interest, group, language, location or product, without a lot of effort. The first topics include a way to share book reviews, tips on San Francisco Bay Area walking trails and profiles of superheroes.

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