I hesitate to post this because I really don’t want to invite anyone’s ire, but I think with all the discussions and focus going on now about different Ning networks this is something people need to be aware of.
When you receive a “friend request” on Ning, beware of what other networks the person has joined or is a member of. As an example, last week I received a Ning friend request from a Ning user named “JOJO” with the username “dahuisun.” The user’s profile has a picture of a young woman, claims she is 22 years old, and for some reason claims to live simultaneously in “Paris” and “China, mainland.” Here is the current profile:
I have received quite a few Ning friend requests in the past few weeks, and I admit that I haven’t throughly checked out the profile of every one before I’ve added them as a “friend.” A better word for this might be “contact.” Many of the people I’ve added to my Ning personal network are actually “friends,” but many are people I don’t personally know. I’d call these “contacts.” For some reason, I did check out the Ning profile of “JOJO” and saw that s/he is a member of a Ning network titled “Sex Stories” that is inappropriate / offensive and certainly not something I want to have any connection to or affiliation with. So, I chose to NOT accept this user as a “Ning friend” and also took additional the step of banning/blocking mail from them in Ning. (You can choose that by selecting the link “Block messages from this user” in the lower left corner of a person’s Ning profile.”)
It is also suspicious and I think telling that this user currently has 2,323 “friends” on Ning. That is a remarkable number. I have no idea why this person has so many Ning friends, but given the Ning networks s/he is currently a part of, I think it is safe to assume their social networking intentions on Ning are not limited to discussions about educational reform, libary 2.0, classroom 2.0, digital dialog, etc.
Working in digital social networking environments is new stuff for all of us. Beware when you receive a Ning friend request. At a minimum, consider checking out the person’s Ning profile first to see what other Ning social networks they are a member of, before you add them as a Ning “friend.”
I have some very positive vibes about Ning overall, but I’m paying attention to comments like Miguel’s. It is worth thinking critically about the value of jumping on a bandwagon… even if you have metaphorically already jumped on it, at least in part. Steve Hargadon cross posted his comment over on the Classroom 2.0 Ning, and the fact that there have already been 25 THREADED responses to it there I think makes a strong case for Ning’s value. There are several big challenges to following and participating in conversations in the edublogosphere at present, and one is this idea of following conversation threads. Ning makes that easier, and that has value. Could a similar social networking environment be built with free, open source tools like Elgg or DrupalEd? Probably. But would an isolated site created with one of those tools be as DIGITALLY RELEVANT and ACCESSIBLE to people as a social network on Ning? I don’t think so.
Ning clearly has some great advantages and benefits, but it IS an open network– so beware of the friend requests you receive. The Classroom 2.0 Ning now has over 500 members, last time I checked I think it had 150. So these social networks (just like MySpace) are certainly poised to explode. Keep the conversations going, but encourage others to be saavy as we do so! 🙂
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- Is your school network ready for multi-platform collaboration? - 2011
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- Online Student Portfolios: What Tools Are Best? - 2010
- Digital Storytelling as THE Disruptive Change Agent for the 21st Century Learning Revolution - 2008
- RSS: Ready for Some Stories - 2008