I've got friends again

Monday 27 July 2009 5:21 AM

Even a proud Facebook evictee gets lonely sometimes. Especially when one keeps on discovering more people who've signed up in recent months, yea even the most recalcitrant Luddites of one's acquaintance.

But now I've come in from the cold, at least a few steps anyway. Introducing Ning. A friend put me onto this service which is technically a social networking site, and thus in the same genre as Facebook, Myspace and the others. To be sure, Ning comes with many of the standard SN features .. photos, videos, blogs, biographical trivialities, music, event invitations and of course the leporid multiplication of "friends". However all of that is remarkably forgiveable, as little of it is inescapable.

Ning allows anyone to create their own social network from scratch, with the freedom to make it as public as a street party or so private not even an enterprising 10 year old could hack it. It could have 5000 members you've never met, or just you and your dog (if he can remember his password). As the network creator, you get to decide which features it has or doesn't, and you have a generous variety of themes and colour schemes to choose from. On Ning, you can be a cyber junkie or a digital hermit.

I've now set up a Ning network as a communication medium for a group of a dozen or so involved in facilitating and developing Renewal Retreats for pastors and pastoral spouses. It's proven its worth in a matter of two weeks. Not least, and somewhat remarkably, it satisfies the passions of a techno-addict like me whilst remaining accessible to cyberphobes. This particular network is replete with Luddites for whom a former Google Group made the Iron Maiden seem like a nanny. Even the most reactionary have logged on in meekness.