When I was a nipper with a Commodore 64, there was a brief mania for things like Pinball Construction Set, Adventure Construction Set, and Garry Kitchen’s GameMaker, which allowed patient amateurs to piece together their own clumsy game creations without having to learn a word of assembly or even BASIC. In those days, we had plenty of free time, since the web hadn’t been booted up yet (although I ran a BBS on dial-up, with an average uptime of three hours per day).
Nowadays, of course, we spend all our waking hours in massively multiplayer virtual interactions, commenting on each other’s profiles and collaboratively filtering each other’s kitten photos. And naturally, a new set of construction sets has arisen to correspond with the latest hobbies. Ning was co-founded by Marc Andreessen (is he still a household name in the Web 2.x era?) in secrecy and dramatically unveiled a few months ago. It’s a meta-application that lets would-be webpreneurs make their own social web apps.
Have you ever admired Craigslist but just wished that the ads were collaboratively filtered a la Digg? Or thought OKCupid just needs mapping, video, and live searching to be truly great? Now’s your chance to put your brilliant ideas in front of a web-hungry world without the bother of looking for investors, designing shoddy classes and whatever else typically goes into making a hot-shot social web application.
In practice, Ning handles a lot of the aspects of web apps that are tedious to code oneself — user authentication and data structures, for example. This leaves you, the creative genius, free to plunge right into what you do best. Is it an idea the world’s been waiting for? Let’s take a look at how to get started Ninging it up.
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