Build Your Own Social Apps?

from the 24-hour-laundry-indeed dept

There was a lot of buzz (some good, some bad) earlier this year about Mark Andreessen's latest effort, code named 24 Hour Laundry. The company has finally come out of the dark and is launching Ning, which is basically an easy to use platform for quickly building social applications. This raises one big question: the core value of most social application is in whether or not it can build a real community. eBay, Craigslist, Flickr, and others really succeeded because of the communities they built, rather than just the technology. Thus, the idea of having lots of people easily creating new social applications might not seem too appealing. Those apps are pretty much worthless without the community, right? It might be a useful way to rapidly prototype a new app, but can it turn into something more? Actually... it might. If you start to think about it more as social situated software, suddenly the idea becomes a lot more interesting. The idea of situated software is that it serves a specific need for a specific (often very small) group of people. It doesn't need to scale. It just needs to serve that group. It's certainly likely that a system like Ning could provide a platform for that (though, there's no guarantee that it will really work out that way). What it really comes down to is empowering users to create something they couldn't create before. Like blogging, podcasting and other new "creation" tools, you can bet that some people will complain that most of what comes out of Ning will be awful and useless (do people really need to create their own take on Craigslist?). That's not really the point. Of course, plenty of it will be awful and useless -- but, by making it easy, a few things might be quite useful to certain people, and that's what will matter. Still, we've seen other companies announce similar plans without getting all that far. Charles Simonyi's Intentional Software and JotSpot both positioned themselves as providing just such a platform -- but neither has gone all that far. Ning's focus is definitely much more on getting developers involved, but it still will depend on whether or not those developers do anything.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Sponsored Promotion
Public Money, Public Code - Sign The Open Letter at
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.