I’ve been thinking a lot about groups lately. Back in December, Bud Hunt posted about whether more groups were really needed. We’ll set the impetus for that post aside, I raise the point only to say that I am now asking the same question…
In the last few months, Ning has offered an ease of creation that has fostered lots of little groups. Steve Hargadon has started a few. There’s one on cyberbullying, and a host of others. I got invited to join this one, and now this one.
This is getting ridiculous.
I want to raise two points…
1. The level of conversation found recently on the two Hargadon ning sites could me much more appropriately supported using traditional forum software. The use of friends, chatterboxes, and the like is not sufficient to overcome the lacking functionalities of the forum built into ning. Not to mention Steve is paying 20 dollars per month for the ad-free site when he could have installed one of the two open source boards or payed for vbulletin and came out ahead.
We as the edublogosphere need to rally around one central giant bulletin board if we want to have discussions on this level. The amount of discussion on Steve’s nings has been a bit dizzying, and the RSS feeds are greatly lacking. Why wait for Ning to fix this when we already have more appropriate solutions?
2. I am not sure why folks keep creating their own little networks on Ning and then inviting others to “join the discussion”. It is a great deal of work to find these other networks and decide to participate.Â If this were a more traditional forum, it would scale based on our need.
I realize that these are not web 2.0 ideas in terms of the technology, but if conversation and collaboration are at the heart of web 2.0 (as per O’Reilly), why are we waiting for Ning to reach a level where it fits us as opposed to using a more appropriate tool?
We need to unite as educators, not only in regards to tech, but writ large. We need a central hub where we can meet for collaboration, discussion, and good times. We need a community pub at the center of town where folks walk in for a bite, a pint, and a sit down. Ning is not that.