I’m doing a live blog post. Right now! Yes right now! This week I’ve been doing some social network research. My experiment this evening is Ning.

So far I’ve created a user name, named my network after this lovely blog, and selected some colours and features


It’s pretty clever how you can pull features in and out – selection range includes description, members, forum, blog, videos, events…and more.

For the design the advanced settings are fairly bog standard. There is a nice selection of existing templates too. I’ve opted for something quite simple from the ‘do it yourself’ range. There may be more playing later on but this will do for now.

I’ve now been playing around with the questions people will see when they wish to sign up to my network. These are also customizable which is good. I really don’t care what my members’ favourite tv shows are…no offense, and you should feel free to tell me if you really want to…but I can’t pretend to care. I can’t think of a good set of answers around ‘day job’…any suggestions?

Ooh exciting. So now investigating security. There seem to be three tiers. You can close off the entire network, so it’s only accessible to registered members. This seems like a waste to me, because if you don’t really know from the name what the network’s about, why on earth would you bother to join? The middle tier is being able to see the front page, but then having to register to see anything else. That’s what I’ve gone for. The lightest security tier is being able to see everything without registering. What I can’t see is what someone who isn’t me that tries to join the site will see…will have to rope in the other half to try that one shortly.

Moving on to notification settings. Users get a lot of choice in terms of what email notifications they can get. They can opt to get none, or they can drill down through a detailed list of options.

Right have just convinced the other half to sign up, and being a nice lad he has done so. So the procedure was fairly painless. And the window displayed looked tasteful. It doesn’t ask you for masses of information – just a user name and password, plus the additional questions that you set. What’s interesting is that the user ID runs across the entire Ning network: Dan had already signed up to another Ning site a while back, so to join this network he could use that same user ID from the previous network, and it kept his user profile.

Another nifty feature: under each member is the option to ‘feature on home’, which allows for lots of fun to be had with profiling any significant figures that decide to join up! Come on now celebrity PRs I know you’re all desperate to join my Ning network…

Well I have to say my enthusiasm is waning. It looks like there’s still lots of playing to do here, and it’s not always clear what I can see as administrator and what a user can see, so there’ll need to be some triple-account holding to check and cross check what things look like, but this is a cool site and I’ll be spending some more time on here…