Keynote with Kyle Ford - HighEdWeb 2008 Conference

Uploaded by MissouriState on 05.12.2008

Doug: It’s my pleasure to get to tell you a little bit about Kyle Ford.
I’m going to tell you right now that this wasn’t pre-written by Kyle Ford.
Kyle doesn’t know what I’m going to say, because I really don’t either.
So we’re going to take this in a short timeline.
I met Kyle in—I’m going to say we’re not exactly sure—late 1996, early ’97.
Kyle was an experienced web developer at that time. I was a marketing guy.
I needed to know about web and Kyle taught me about web.
Shortly thereafter, a couple of years later, Kyle and I actually came to the Indiana version of this conference.
So in 1999, Kyle and I co-presented a Best Of Trackwinner in Indiana.
So he’s been in this higher education thing before.
Then Kyle graduated from college.
He got away from me, and he went on to work at Fox in LA.
Do we have anybody that was a really hardcore “X-Files” fan here? A few?
That’s the same Kyle Ford that was famous the last year of the “X-Files” who redeveloped the “X- Files” site. Kyle worked at Fox.
I have to tell you, too, Kyle was actually a writer and a designer besides being a code guy, and he definitely was a video guy.
And that experience he took through to Fox.
Fox was doing some early website stuff, only video stuff, and Kyle was doing that work on the side for Fox.
Kyle then went to Yahoo as an entertainment editor and some other things there—once again, working in video and some of those things.
And now he’s been at Ning for about three years as a Product Manager.
And now—I’m trying to remember the exact title—he’s something marketing product manager or something like that.
Director of Product Management.
My last little anecdote to tell you is: Kyle has always been an interesting guy.
He’s definitely a Mac guy, but he can work on PCs, so he kind of crosses over.
The other thing I have to tell you is he’s spent some quality time with Cindy Crawford as well as spending some hotel time with Burt Reynolds.
And you can ask him about those things later. [Laughter]
Help me welcome Kyle Ford. [Applause]
Kyle Ford: Hey! It’s great to be here.
Thank you for the intro, Doug.
I think what Doug forgot to mention was at that conference 10 years ago, the prize was this bad boy here. [Laughter]
So I wish I still had it.
Iwould be packing it today and flaunting the iPhone userswith it.
So, pretty cool.
So I want to talk today about social networking.
It’s a term you hear a lot, obviously at this conference and all around.
Kind of defining what social networking is.
Talking a little bit about Ning, which is the company I work for.
And then in addition, showing how we can apply some of this technology to higher education.
So when people ask me, or hear that I work in social networking, typically they’ll go, “Oh, you work at MySpace.”
And I say, “No.”
And they say, “How about Facebook?”
And I say, “No.”
Some people say, “You’re the devil. I’ve seen the late night news reports of all the horrible things that happen in social networks.”
But most of the time, people will ask me to either fix their Outlook email for them or ask for a ride in this. [Laughter]
That’s typically what happens.
So I thought I would start things off by defining—at least in my definition—what a social network is.
So I define it as a set of online tools that allows for content creation and community building.
A social network is all about people sharing information, sharing ideas, but also there’s definitely a place where people can plant their own flag, and establish a section of the site that’s theirs and they can express themselves through it.
So I talk about tools.
These are some tools, and I’ll show you some examples in a second of what a social network may contain.
Some might contain one of these; some might contain all of these.
Things like forums, video sharing ala YouTube, photo sharing ala Flickr, music, events, chat.
All these ingredients are sort of the tools that can let people collaborate and talk to each other.
So like I mentioned, people talk about MySpace and Facebook all the time. These are also social networks.
I’ll use my little laser pointer so it’s exciting.
Twitter has obviously been very popular at this conference.
This is a social network about microblogging, or sharing short bits of information of what you’re doing at this moment.
Flickr is a social network for photos.
You’ve got your photos you can share with the community, things like that.
YouTube, same for videos.
I think Jeff mentioned last, which CBS recently bought.
They are, in some ways, a social network for what music tracks you’re listening to at the time.
So you can browse through people’s individual music taste, share with others, meet new people.
LinkedIn, obviously—I’m sure most of you guys are on LinkedIn.
Kind of a social network for professionals, resume sharing, and finding leads.
And in some ways, sites like eBay and Amazon, you may not think of as social networks traditionally, but eBay is having people with common interest find each other, in this case, over selling goods.
Amazon is the same way.
You can express yourself through wish lists and have a place on the site to express yourself, but also at the end of the day, it’s a network about e- commerce.
So I want to talk a little bit about walled gardens to freedom,and we’ll talk about what exactly a walled garden is too.
So I went to Lance’s presentation on social networking yesterday morning.
I’m sure many of you did too. He went back in time.
I thought it was pretty fascinating talking about social networking all the way back to 10,000 B.C. with people sitting around the campfire.
That was sort of the first social network. So I’m going to jump a little bit further.
I won’t go all the way back in time.
And this is not necessarily related to social networking, but more of web trends in general, going from closed to open.
So if you go back to the early to mid-90s, when you say going online to someone, this is typically what they thought of: AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, these big services, and they were great.
They kind of taught people a comfort level about going online, checking their email, etc.
So it got people introduced, and kind of let them put their tail in the water a little bit.
And then along comes this guy, and I’ll talk a little bit more about the guy behind this in a bit.
But Netscape comes along and, essentially, this ushers in the open web of sorts. So people were sort of pushing against the boundaries of what I can do inside the walls of CompuServe, AOL, and Prodigy. This comes along and lets anyone create their own territory on the web. So it’s sort of an enabler of sorts, kind of a game changer. And so when this happens, all these flood gates are open and you see things coming along. Google, a little bit later, but Yahoo, Amazon, all these big sites that are so commonplace today, without something like the web couldn’t happen. And you see this again in the early 2000s. Creating a website, I mean sure, there were early things like GeoCities and stuff. But typically, to create a website and express yourself was a little bit of a nerd-only affair. You had to know HTML. Maybe you use something like FrontPage to put FTP stuff in. There was definitely a barrier to entry. And then along come people like Blogger, who is sort of a pioneer, and then later things like TypePad and WordPress. Anyone can publish their thoughts instantly to the world so it really changes self- publishing.
So that’s something we see. Something that’s harder becoming something that’s easier and more widespread.
So rather than just being confined to one service, these things let you create your own flags in the ground very easily.
So here’s where we are, sort of circa 2008.
A little bit last year too, in the world of social networking.
So you’ve got the big guys, things like MySpace, YouTube for videos, LinkedIn.
Everyone’s on them. Everyone’s using them and that’s fantastic.
And they’re getting people comfortable with the idea of making friends online, things like that, the idea of profile pages.
But there’s also a downside, and it’s really their world.
When you’re joining Facebook or MySpace, you’re joining Facebook.
Your URL is
You’re sort of beholden to them for new feature rollouts.
If you want to do something custom, it’s up to Facebook to roll it out.
You can’t really express yourself to a great extent. MySpace is probably the furthest along.
Some people cringe at the idea of MySpace, but if you think about it, it really is complete freedom.
They let you do whatever, and a lot of times, whatever can be pretty ghastly.
But at the end of the day, it is freedom in terms of design.
But in terms of features, and in terms of making it your own if you have a brand, or in this case educational groups or classes, not necessarily the place you want to be.
It’s more about going into their world.
So this is where Ning comes in.
I don’t want to turn this presentation into a Ning product pitch by any stretch, but I sort of want to tell you a little bit about the company briefly and show you some examples of what’s been done.
And then we’ll segue into education.
So Ning is a tool, an online web service, that lets people create their own social networks for anything.
And the goal is in less than a minute if you really want to blast through it.
A little bit about our history: we were co-founded by Marc Andressen and Gina Bianchini.
So Marc, as I mentioned before when I showed the Netscape slide, I’m sure is familiar to everybody in this room.
He was the co-creator of Mosaic, which was the first popular graphical web browser.
So it sort of brought web browsing into the main stream.
And it went on to become Netscape.
He was a kind of golden-boy in the mid-90s for the dot-com explosion, and was on the cover of Time. Very famous.
Then he sold Netscape to AOL and served as the CTO at AOL for a while before he then founded a company called Loudcloud, which became a little bit of a casualty of the dot-com collapse.
And he transformed it to a company called Opsware which then sold to HP last year for a substantial amount of money.
So he’s got a pretty good track record.
And then Gina comes from Harmonic Communications, which was a company that provided measurement and optimization services for ad agencies, and they sold to Dentsu several years ago.
So they started the company in 2004 and operated in secrecy for a year under the name 24 Hour Laundry.
And the tag line was “Serving absolutely none of your laundry needs.”
And so everyone kept a close eye on it just by virtue of, especially with Marc’s name on it, wondering what they were going to do.
Including myself. I come from the Chicago suburbs, so Marc has always been kind of a folk hero.
Comes from the University of Illinois, legendary guy, so I was very curious as to this.
And then on October of ’05, they came out from under the covers as a service called Ning, which means “peace” in Chinese, if you’re wondering where it came from.
It’s also a short domain name, which is another reason we chose it.
But it launched as a series of a little over 20 very simple web applications like create your own mashup, Google Maps mashup, create your own Craigslist, create your own Hot or Not.
It’s very simple things, very programmer-oriented.
And we did this to launch a platform that would host these various applications, but also to test the waters to see what was popular.
So for over about a year and a half, we focused these 20 apps into three apps, which we saw based on popularity.
One was create your own Flickr, create your own YouTube or create your own very rudimentary version of MySpace.
And then after that, condensed them down into one product, which was sort of the goal from the beginning.
We’d just offer one product.
I sort of use a lunch tray analogy, which is, we give you a blank lunch tray, and you scoop the ingredients you want on.
“I want this network to have videos and photos and whatever I want.”
So we’ve launched that product in February of ’07.
It’s called “Your own social network for anything.”
And since then, it’s really been a rocket ship that seems to have hit a nerve as to what people are looking for.
So we just passed 500,000 social networks living in the platform last week, and a new one is created every 30 seconds.
So it’s accelerating pretty rapidly.
So this has caused Gina to start describing us as the largest social network you’ve never heard of.
Largely, because we are not about the Ning brand, we’re about suppressing our brand.
The person that creates the network, it’s their brand.
They may pay to remove traces of Ning, and it’s all about them.
So a lot of our larger networks, I’ll show you quickly, people join and they have no idea they’re joining Ning, and that’s Ok with us.
So we’re sort of powering in the background.
So I thought, really quickly, I would just show you exactly what it means to set up a network.
And this will apply to, hopefully when I get into the classroom section, how quickly this process can be done if you wanted to do that.
So you would go to, you name your network, and you pick an address for it.
By default, it’s
And you can pay, actually, to domain map it so it can be completely white labeled at your domain.
You can set it to public or private— we’ll talk about the benefits of private in a second—and fill out some information.
One interesting thing is that it could be localized into a little over 20 languages, and we’re adding more now.
So with, one pull down, it can be created in any language around the world.
You drag features in, just a little AJAX drag and drop here like I mentioned.
Sort of like the lunch tray: photos, videos, add them in.
And then you can pick a theme to get going.
I think we have over 50 themes.
You can style a little bit here with kind of a WYSIWIG thing, or if you know CSS, you can go in and completely re-write any of the site’s code.
It’s not only visual CSS but functional because the structure is all CSS.
You can rearrange things, etc.
And you can do all this later too.
So, at any time, you click “launch” and you’re up and running.
So the goal is that if my grandmother’s bridge club could have a bridge site in a minute and she doesn’t want to fool with all these settings, she can just hit “launch” and that’s it.
So let’s say I’ve done it, and I’ve launched a Chicago sky diving site for sky diving enthusiasts.
So there you go. Those are the only steps required.
I don’t have the slide to show you for this, but we also, by default—and this kind of ties into what Lance was talking about a little bit yesterday—are tying all these various social networking properties together.
By default, we have badges, widgets, and Facebook apps for this.
So if you have a Facebook presence or a MySpace presence, you can cross link very easily with all this stuff.
We provide all the links for you.
So we’re very much not about telling people to abandon your Facebook or abandon your other presences, but certainly about tying them together.
And ideally making this the hub, because it can be completely under your own brand.
So this is my sweet clip art example here.
I think this is what makes the platform interesting.
Like I showed you, the point-and-clink method, this is the average person that comes. get something going quickly.
They want to use the default template and that’s fine, they can do it, and they’re up and running.
This is the guy that maybe took a couple FrontPage classes 10 years ago in college or something.
He knows enough to be dangerous.
He maybe knows CSS.
This could also be a standard designer.
They can go in, they can really skin the site, change it to how they want to do it.
And then this is what makes us, I think, interesting more than some of these one-size-fits- all services.
You can actually do what we call decentralizing.
If you’re a PHP developer, you can ask for the source code of the entire product.
We’ll give it to you. At that point, you’re on your own train.
You’re off of the main updates. But you can go ahead and completely change the logic, re-write the whole application.
It’ll just run on top of our platform. So a few examples. This is our friend 50 Cent.
These are just examples I’m going to show you, a cross section, very quickly, of what people have done with this technology.
So 50 Cent launched a network called “This is 50.”
I think he has coming up on 400,000—over 300,000—very quickly.
He uses this to get all the various info about his album and stuff and who shot who in various drive-bys and stuff like that [Laughter].
I’m not even kidding either. That’s the best part.
T.I., another hip-hop artist; we’ve been very big in the hip-hop community.
You may know this young lady. She launched— this is a beta—last week, and I think she’s going to be launching it from relatively soon.
This, as you would expect, is as crazy as you might think it would be in terms of getting things going and the fans on it. Radiohead launched with us.
They’re very much anti-promotion. They’re too cool to do releases and things like that.
They’ve been under the radar, but they’ve been using it pretty successfully.
Good Charlotte. These are just band examples.
New Kids on the Block, represent. Yeah.
So they’re back on tour now and they’ve been using us.
So this is something I’ll come back to in a minute.
I don’t know if you guys know “Ask a Ninja.” You do? [Applause]
Yeah, cool. Wow! They’ll like to see that reaction. That’s awesome.
So we’ll talk about Kent and Doug, who are the guys behind “Ask a Ninja.”
I won’t say which one is the ninja, because it’s a secret, but these are a popular video podcast.
They’ve used this network really successfully.
Seth Godin. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Seth Godin but he’s kind of an online marketing expert.
A show of hands who knows Seth. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So he launched this network called Tribes a few months ago, and it’s basically a place for Seth Godin fans and marketing enthusiasts to gather, but he made it private.
I think it’s still private. The only way to get in is to pre-order a copy of his book on Amazon, and then he lets you in.
So pretty clever. This is Chris Anderson who is the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine.
He has a site called DIY Drones.
This is for enthusiasts of unmanned aerial vehicles, which is pretty niche-y if you think about it.
But this has been doing really well, and so it’s great to have him as an ally obviously.
This is an example of a brand using Ning. Saturn.
I drive a Saturn. I’m sure there’s probably some other people.
Their fan base is very rabid. They have these gatherings every year for the Saturn family reunion.
So they’ve extended that online with a site called “I Am Saturn,” and it’s been very popular.
We’ve actually had bizarre uses of brands.
WD-40 enthusiasts have a social network. It’s pretty interesting.
This is interesting,
This is a guy named Manny Hernandez in Florida.
He uses this technology for a diabetes support network, and he became such a great network—we call these people network creators that are making these—he became very vocal of a creator.
He actually was hired by Ning as a community advocate to spread the word. Sort of evangelize.
And he has since left Ning to do this full-time.
He’s got some sponsors, so he’s really taking it to the next level, which is cool. This is an interesting story.
I won’t bore you with all these examples. We’re almost done. This is the List Project.
So our CEO Gina saw this on “60 Minutes.”
It’s a project that helps Iraqis that were aiding U.S. war efforts, and as a result, are then ostracized in Iraq and their lives can be threatened.
So as they move to the U.S., it’s almost like someone getting out of prison there, in this world where they don’t know what to do.
“I’m sort of out of my element.”
So this lets them land in the U.S., gives them help, lets them connect socially.
So they have a number of networks. This is a public one.
They also have some private ones for the actual Iraqis themselves to talk and get acquainted.
This is T. Boone Pickens who has a big wind energy initiative coming out.
So he started this network to push his wind initiative, and it went from zero to over 100,000 members in, I think, like three weeks.
Just strictly through word of mouth and cross embedding on Facebook and things like that.
And then finally, we’ll segue into education.
These are some simple, quick educational examples.
A lot of the classroom ones I can’t show you because they’re private for obvious reasons.
But this is an example just of an in- class network.
Here’s a network for teachers just sharing information.
These are K-12 examples. But this is actually one that I did.
I went to Augustana, as Doug mentioned, and this is an alumni site, this is another huge thing that we’re seeing.
I frankly am kind of amazed sometimes that Classmates still exists in a world of Facebook and things like this.
And we’re seeing a lot of people creating their own alumni sites for free and doing this. So that’s been a huge one.
“Inconvenient Youth” is a network Al Gore has blessed.
The prominent VC’s daughter has started this.
And so basically she’s teaching primarily at colleges, but also I think some high schools, and teaching them Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” speech so that they can go to younger people and spread the word.
So this is a great example of a campus-wide cause or a campus group.
This is an example for a conference. This was a conference in Shanghai, Learning 2.0 ’08, I guess.
And this was an Illinois Computing Educators Conference, and of course, you guys have seen this.
Ning was used for this conference.
So this brings us back to another use that we’ve seen, which is pretty interesting, and this is social networks created for just talking about Web 2.0 in the classroom.
So Classroom 2.0 has been one of the bigger ones. There’ve been several.
And this is a site created by a guy named Steve Hargadon.
He created the site very early after the current Ning product launch, which was, like I said, February ’07.
I think he started this in March or April. And it really took off.
And so he has been using this to obviously talk about Web 2.0 stuff.
We also then hired him as a consultant and sort of an evangelist for social networking in higher education.
And he runs now a site that’s co-sponsored by us called Ning and Education.
It’s if you want to check it out.
It’s got a list of tons of resource examples and stuff like that.
So first of all, I’d like to read you something from Steve on a recent blog post he did.
And then also I want to have him actually talk to you, so I asked him to record a special message, and we’ll play it in a second.
But he was reading an article in EDUCAUSE Magazine, which I know you guys are familiar with.
It was co-authored by John Seely Brown who was the former Chief Scientist at Xerox and the Director of the Palo Alto Research Center, which was the birthplace of a lot of modern computing initiatives.
And it was an article called “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0.”
And he was reading this and sort of had a big awakening last year.
He wrote this kind of epic blog post on the Ning site; to plug my own site, I will put all these links on for you after the talk so you can check it out.
But Steve wrote a big post called “Web 2.0 is the future of education.”
Kind of the money quote from it was “I believe that the read/write web, or what we are calling web 2.0, will culturally, socially, intellectually, and politically have a greater impact than the advent of the printing press.
I believe that we cannot even begin to imagine the changes that are going to take place as the two-way nature of the Internet begins to flower, and that even those of us who have spent time imagining this future will be astounded by what happens.”
So, with that, I want to have Steve say a little something.
Steve Hargadon: Hi, I’m Steve Hargadon.
I’m an unabashed Ning enthusiast, and I do some education consulting work for Ning.
I’m also the Director of the K-12 Open Technologies Initiative from
And I’m the founder of a Ning network called Classroom 2.0. Classroom 2.0 was started in March of 2007.
And I started it because I’ve been speaking at different educational conferences with educational bloggers who were very anxious for regular educators to get a taste of the transformative learning experiences that they were having using the tools of Web 2.0, in particular blogging.
But the difficulty was that that message largely centered on the need to learn how to blog and to blog to what they call “the empty room” for as long as say nine months—to blog without an audience until people begin to discover you.
And that the combination of the self-reflection that would take place in the building of that blog and then in having an audience would become transformative.
And when I would ask an audience how many educators were actually blogging, in an audience of 100, maybe three would raise their hands.
It seemed like that that was just too much work to ask of educators to go through, especially educators who are already busy.
When I discovered Ning’s capability to allow you to build a social network around a specific topic, it seemed like a really natural and important fit to bring this into the educational world.
And Classroom 2.0 took off very quickly.
Currently, it has something over 11,000 members, and it was clear very early on that it was going to grow quickly.
I don’t know that we knew it would grow to this size, and I know that 11,000 members is not necessarily a huge network, but it’s a lot of educators to have gathered around a single small topic, the topic of the use of Web 2.0 in education.
And I think it points to some really significant opportunities for using social networking in education.
Kyle Ford: Cool. So Steve talked about some transformative educational experiences.
So I wanted to talk a little bit about that.
First, by talking about the networking part of the term “social networking,” and some of the technological aspects of it.
So these are some things that you could do with a classroom social network, and we’ll go into some more in a bit.
But file sharing is an obvious one—to distribute campus assignments, material two-way, both in distribution and receiving them.
We see a lot of campuses trying to promote green initiatives.
This can help in terms of eliminating things like paper or CDs, discs and stuff, just for simple back and forth, to make things more efficient this way.
Multimedia is obviously a huge one.
The advent of YouTube has effectively made flash video almost what’s expected now on a site in terms of being able to easily embed and distribute content that way.
To be able to share photos, videos, and audio in two ways instantly is kind of ground breaking when you think about it. It also helps students, if you want to have assignments where they submit multimedia stuff as the deliverable.
It makes it incredibly easy.
I think back when I was at Augustana, I took a video art class where the deliverable was Hi- 8 tape at the end of the day.
And so for the teacher to have to lug a whole box of those down to the lab and pop it into some specialized player, the thought of just firing it off a browser and watching them via a flash player is pretty cool.
Language immersion, I think, is pretty interesting thing.
I showed you the pull-down language selection when you’re setting up a network.
This is great for a foreign language class where you set up a network in that foreign language and then force people to interact that way.
I guess to supplement this too, you can also invite foreign students from those countries to join the network and test them.
Almost like going to Spain and just being immersed there.
And jumping in the deep end, you have to speak it to survive.
So conduct the class in that language.
Video conferencing is a pretty obvious one, but for remote students to be able to watch classes as it happens or vice versa, to give presentations to the class and introduce themselves is a huge thing.
I think this is going to become even bigger and more popular.
Most people think of it as the choppy postage stamp type stuff, but as connections get faster and faster, the idea of full on, 1080p, high-definition video streaming all over the place is not that far in the future.
I think it’s going to be fairly interesting to what it does in terms of remote learning.
You can obviously also invite guest lecturers to come and appear in the context of a social network via video.
Social notes. This is really interesting that I hadn’t thought of but I came across—are you guys familiar with Michael Wesch from Kansas State University?
Anybody know? He basically has done a series of Web 2.0 oriented videos detailing the social web and what this technology means.
Had some great popularity on them, but his general idea that he tried in his class is that students don’t take notes on paper.
He requires them to all take notes on a classroom wiki that he set up.
So they’re taking notes in real time, back and forth between each other, often augmenting them with photos, videos, and links.
And often, challenging the professor’s assertions right there and saying, “He’s wrong and here’s the Wikipedia link that disproves it.”
That kind of stuff. So it’s interesting in that it’s social note-taking.
They’re seeing what others are talking about, but also, at the end of the day, the professor can then go look back and see “what were my students absorbing?”
What worked, what didn’t. So it’s a pretty interesting tool for that.
So this leads me to my favorite part, which is the social and educational parts of social networking.
So this is the two-way street part.
To talk about Michael Wesch again, he did a poll of his students in class where he asked them, “Who doesn’t like school?” just flat out.
And half the hands in the room went up. And then he said, “Who doesn’t like learning?”
And none of the hands went up, which is pretty telling.
And I think it’s because people tend to fall into a pattern, especially in large settings something like this room, where education has become an information dump.
From like the speaker or the teacher up on high, to the students who are just sitting passively and writing their information down.
And it’s not the fault of the educator; it’s the fault of the setting and a lot of schools are not going to have ten person classes.
They just can’t logistically, but you’ve never been able to have that sort of small group interaction in a setting like this.
It’s been impossible.
So students often kind of get into the habit of sitting there and being passive, and when they go to a smaller class, often they’ll take that behavior back with them, which is unfortunate.
It’s kind of a vicious cycle.
So John Seely Brown, who I also mentioned before, noted that we need to stop thinking of education as a substance that we transfer and more of a dialogue or a social view of learning.
So these are sort of his points.
The old way, I guess, of transmitting information is “I think therefore I am”—access to information and learning about—whereas the new model is “we participate therefore we are”—access to people turns into learning to be.
And so this second one, which I’ve highlighted in red, sort of blew Steve Hargadon’s mind for sure, and also has sort of blown my mind.
But it’s a really simple but profound thing to note.
So there’s always a place for route memorization and transmission of knowledge.
There’s always going to be a place. I’m certainly not advocating that that be eliminated.
But it’s also a bit crazy to rely strictly on that in a world where everyone is sitting, like in the audience here, with laptops, and they can essentially get all of human knowledge a Google search away.
So that technology is there. It’s sort of the elephant in the room.
You can challenge what the professor is saying; you can get access to that right there.
So something needs to change, and it hasn’t been changing as rapidly as some people had hoped.
So I was talking about this to my wife, who is a high school teacher, and she said, “That’s just like a calculator.”
And I was like, “What are you talking about?”
And so basically, it’s like a calculator comes in the scene and it sort of levels the playing field for basic math skills.
I mean, essentially, you still understand the basics initially of adding and subtracting and dividing and things like that, but once it’s there, it’s sort of silly not to use it every day.
You’re just making things harder. You’re almost becoming a stickler, like an old-fashioned contrarian.
“I’m just going to do everything by hand.”
It’s there, it’s silly not to use it, but it’s not about the tool, and this is similar to unlimited access to info.
The tools are there, but it’s what you do with the tools where you take things from there.
So what I’m proposing is that we need to build better soldiers in terms of creating students that do something different with this information.
So they’re not just passively accepting it.
They can get the information whenever they want; it’s then what they do with it.
They need to synthesize it and remix it and take it to the next level.
It’s like everything is out there, and it’s a matter of how you stay adrift in this sea of information.
It’s sort of like what Jeff Veen was talking about yesterday.
There’s so much out there.
It’s how we take this data, slice it into meaningful ways.
So we need to make students that are fully prepared for this world, and this is not just in the classroom.
Our world at large, which I’ll talk about in a bit, is becoming this way.
It’s almost drowning in information. How do you slice through it?
We need to make this behavior, this analytical behavior, second nature to them and make them natives in this new world.
And Michael Wesch has done some pioneering work here. He talked about this.
He’s been stitching things together in his classroom.
He uses Netvibes for this example, and this is the wiki, I talked about, where he updates class notes.
He’s just pulling in feeds and services all around the web.
He’s got a blog, I think, in here. And this is the class notes I talked about, where people are collaboratively taking notes.
So I see something like this, and I’m like, “Hey! This is pretty much what we do at Ning.”
Maybe he’s heard of Ning by now, but this is a perfect example of something like this.
So this is very exciting to see that he’s breaking new ground. I would assume, and maybe I’ll drop him an email, but that he’ll move to a service to consolidate this stuff a little bit better.
So to sum up, here’s Web 1.0. They’re all bored and sad.
And they’re very happy, and they’re outside in a field for Web 2.0. So very collaborative.
So talk about big is the new small.
This, I think, is where this new social media can really shine in the educational setting.
We now have the technology, and we’ll go into this in a second, to scale these small classrooms, ten person, very active discussion groups into a lecture hall, augmented by this new technology, which is to me pretty exciting.
Here is a dog on a couch. And so this is about getting comfortable.
I mentioned my wife before is a high school teacher. One of the things she would always complain about is that a student’s comfort level in the classroom plays a huge role in how willing and active they are at participation.
I think setting up a private social network for a classroom or for any group can help address this issue in a number of ways.
The first is obviously that it’s private.
So students that are self conscious about their Google savvy friends looking them up and making fun of what they might have said in class, those are alleviated.
They can’t get into see it. Professors, the same way.
They may say, “I’ve said something on the forums that I don’t want my colleagues seeing and therefore I’m not going to communicate that.”
I think Steve talked about that a little bit in the video.
Sometimes they don’t want to blog because they feel like it’s publishing a book.
It’s like a huge labor of love to come up with some text, whereas if it’s a very active private thing they’re much more apt to get a little bit more comfortable.
It goes into this, which is putting your toes in the water.
So one of the benefits of using tools like forums and chats are that you’re not sitting there crafting a huge piece.
You are just interacting very quickly.
You’re much more apt to interject something, almost like raising your hand in a classroom, saying something, and you feel good about yourself.
You didn’t have to go through this huge birthing process for my incredible essay.
It is also interesting in that it’s so conversational.
It’s not like a blog where you’re setting yourself up as a topic expert and everybody’s coming there to read you.
You are just contributing to the larger group.
So I think people get a little bit more comfortable there.
And then of course there’s this problem.
There’s always someone in every classroom, whether it’s a class clown type or just someone who is super charismatic, kind of an attention grabber.
And as a result, some of the more reserved students often don’t express themselves.
They may express themselves in their papers, but in class, there’s not a whole lot of dialogue because someone is always stealing the spotlight.
So what’s interesting is that if you supplement your real life class sessions with these online counterparts, things like forums and discussions continue offline, someone who may be shy may be more apt to participate after the fact.
It’s also interesting in that it’s asynchronous, so that if they think of something brilliant five hours after class, they didn’t miss their window.
They can go in and interject a day later.
And ideally, the professor, at the beginning of the next class day, would say, “Let’s look at what happened online,” and talk about that.
And maybe those students then get a chance to shine.
So you weave the two together in some interesting ways.
So this is one of my favorite new terms and topics that I’ve been talking about.
And I talked about this a little bit on the High Ed Web blog. A couple of months ago, I did a post on it.
So this has really gained traction in the past few months, and it’s gained the name “Ambient Awareness.”
I first saw this in a Wired article by a guy named Clive Thompson, and since then, he has coined this term and written about it in The New York Times magazine too.
So in a nutshell, it’s the idea that small nuggets of information, like, “I just went to Burger King,” “I’m in the bathroom,” that you see on services like Twitter, aren’t life changing at all.
They are, in fact, relatively stupid.
But when you follow status updates from enough people, it starts to form this cloud of awareness.
You’re following so many people, and it’s all coming at you so much that you begin to really feel plugged in.
Sort of like you’re in the Matrix here.
And so I want to read a quick quote from Clive Thompson, how he describes this.
“This is the paradox of ambient awareness.
Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane.
But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting.
This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating.
The ambient awareness becomes like ‘a type of ESP,’ as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.
‘It’s like I can distantly read everyone’s mind,’ Haley went on to say.
‘I love that. I feel like I’m getting to something raw about my friends.
It’s like I’ve got this heads-up display for them.’
It can also lead to more real- life contact, because when one member of Haley’s group decides to go out to a bar or see a band or Twitters about his plans, the others see it, and some decide to drop by—ad hoc, self- organizing socializing.
And when they do socialize face-to-face, it feels oddly as if they’ve never actually been apart.
They don’t need to ask, “So, what have you been up to?’ because they already know.
Instead, they’ll begin discussing something that one of the friends Twittered that afternoon, as if picking up a conversation in the middle.”
So I talked about this again in the blog post, but I’m a remote worker.
Ning is located in Palo Alto, up near San Francisco, and I’m in Los Angeles.
So I find that by subscribing to co- workers and a third party to deal with it.
I subscribe to their Twitter or Facebook feeds, and it’s almost like I’m getting water cooler chat remotely, which is a really bizarre phenomenon.
It really makes you feel looped in when you’re not there, even more so than things like IM or IRC, where you’re chatting in a professional capacity.
This stuff is almost like I said it and forget it.
I set the feeds up, and it just comes my way.
I’m not even asking for the information, so it’s almost like I’m overhearing it, which is very interesting.
And I think in the classroom context this becomes pretty interesting too.
So this was the title of the post, which is “Backyard Barbeque 2.0”.
What this means is that professors that I had at school—the ones that I felt closest too or the ones they were buddies but didn’t cross the line between being inappropriate buddies—were very close to their students.
They had open door policies in their offices.
They invited students over to their houses to get to know their lives.
They made it clear that beyond the classroom, I’m a person.
I have some interests.
And I think it’s a fluffier aspect of social networking that no one talks about, but things like profile pages and feeds, I think, just keep adding to the comfortability level of the classroom.
Even at the conference here, I’ve been following the Twitter stream, and I feel like I know a third of the people here. I’ve never met them.
I feel more comfortable if I went to see them and “Oh, hey! I saw your thing last night about how you were throwing up in the bathroom. Very cool!”
So you get more comfortable just by virtue of following the stuff, which I think in the classroom, especially for remote learning people I said, so these people can be tapped into the social lives of their classmates and they could be thousands of miles away, which I think is pretty cool stuff.
One other thing too is, John Seely Brown, who I mentioned before, he talks about this too, how the distinction between the lecture hall and the hallway is rapidly diminishing, and that all the learning is really happening in the hallway, and I think you guys would agree with this too.
A lot of the stuff, a lot of the people you meet in the hallways or between sessions or at the bar, are where a lot of the value of this conference comes together.
So Trojan horse stuff.
In addition to the stuff that I’ve already talked about, there are also some subtler effects that are taking place just by virtue of using social networks all the time.
So this is something that Steve notes a lot and that everyone reads about, how the Web is becoming a conversation.
That’s what Web 2.0 is about. Web 1.0 was about transmitting.
Web 2.0 is too in a way. I also hate the term Web 2.0, so I apologize that I have to keep saying it.
I won’t say Web 3.0 or anything.
But basically the social media skills that you learn by using these classroom networks or by using this technology don’t end in the classroom.
You see major newspapers now—which we’re all about The New York Times, the authoritative view from down on high—lots of these newspapers are turning comments on in their stories and making news distribution a collaborative thing too.
So things are changing rapidly. You see YouTube obviously popularizing the idea that anyone can contribute video.
I think it was Francis Ford Coppola who said in the 70s or 80s that the next great piece of art will come from an eighth grade girl in her bedroom with a camcorder, and that is completely happening right now.
And this has even happened for TV writers and producers who are experimenting with this kind of stuff.
Any of you familiar with Dr. Horrible? Yeah? [Applause]
So Joss Whedon who was the creator of shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayers,” “Angel,” and “Firefly,” and the new show called “Dollhouse,” which if I was still at Fox, I would plug with an air date, but I’m not, so I won’t.
It comes out in the spring. But there was a recent writer strike, which was why all your shows are crappy now.
There was a writer strike a while ago, and so during the downtime between shows, he decided to film a web series to fill the time. So he brought Nathan Fillion in, Doogie Howser himself, Patrick Harris, and he shot the series.
And it was a pretty big hit online, but what’s interesting is the team was extremely involved back and forth with the fan base.
They were Twittering about it constantly. The show was about heroes and villains.
They made up some villains in the show.
They also have opened it up to the fans to submit their own villains via video, and then they may appear on DVDs and potentially in future episodes.
So very interactive kind of a show.
And what’s really interesting is that even the business model was interactive.
There’s no network distributing this and eating the cost of it or offsetting with advertising.
They have to establish a one-by-one relationship with each of their viewers.
Get them hooked and have them directly pay for the show, so it’s pretty interesting stuff, and I think we’re going to see a lot more of this.
So to bring it back to “Ask a Ninja,” Kent and Doug are two guys from LA that started the show “Ask a Ninja.”
Basically, the show couldn’t exist without collaboration.
So they take questions, “What does a ninja do in such and such situation?” and the ninja responds with a video.
That’s the whole concept of the show.
But they have built a fan base all through this grassroots effort so much so that their career has just gone to the next level now.
They just got hired to re-write The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes remake, a big city remake.
So they’re going to be too cool for everyone now.
So that’s very good.
But they’ve had this network that they started ,I think in the last year, and it’s been phenomenally successful for them.
So using this technology while you’re still in school, I think it gives students and faculty members, as well as interns in this real world, web participation. Teaching them how to interact, what works, what doesn’t work, and I think it’s going to be pretty valuable in their everyday lives, even as companies start introducing this technology on corporate intranets too. I mean it’s all sort of training for this. And I think this is something Lance touched on too in his presentation yesterday. The idea of who you assign social network duties to in the case of a classroom, it could be the teacher, the professor. But what we’re seeing at Ning and what a lot of people come to us and say, is, “I want to set up a social network, but who’s going to run it?” We’re seeing that the job of the future is really community manager. It’s a job that has not existed to date. In some ways, it has but it’s really becoming bigger and bigger. And it’s extremely important. People want to, you know, I want to take my brand or my show or whatever, I want to have someone run it. And these people are often becoming huge celebrities within their community.
Like, for example, Frank Spotnitz, who was a guy I’ve worked with on the “X- Files.”
He is Executive Producer of the show.
He started a network for his production company that’s called “Big Light.”
And he brought a girl named Alison, who lives in Nashville, on as his community manager.
And she has become a celebrity on the site.
Everyone goes to her as if she’s an authoritative source, and it’s great.
And she keeps everything going; people trust her, and so I think using this stuff in a classroom, it could also be training people for that career, which I think is going to be something explosive in the next ten years.
And here’s accountability, which is a huge, huge issue.
So Jeff talked about this a little bit in his presentation on how comfort level between generations in terms of what you’re sharing is radically different.
Some people are like “everything is private until I make something public” and then to a lot of teenagers, “everything is public until I make it private.”
And that’s completely true.
I think there are also some educational boundaries that obviously need to be set as to what should be public, and also how permanent some of this stuff can be.
So I think everyone has seen this.
No matter how the big the person is, there’s always some incriminating MySpace photo of them wasted or doing who knows what on their page.
My cousins have the same thing.
I search through their Facebook profiles and it’s terrifying.
And literally, like clockwork, every few weeks or months, someone I went to school with will frantically IM me and say, “Oh no! I’m a teacher and my parents/students are very savvy and they’re looking me up and I don ‘t know what they’re going to find. How can you make me hide this from Google?”
They’re all terrified, and I’m like, “Well maybe you shouldn’t have put it up in the first place. How’s that?”
So I think what this is, is it’s partially obviously a judgment call as to what you’re doing, but I think it’s also that there’s a lack of education as to what the long term repercussions are.
People get very excited and comfortable with the technology; they like to share and that’s great.
But there needs to be a little bit of education, and we can talk about that in a second.
So one of the ways, that I think is interesting, where a private social network shines is that by having your professor or your fellow students that you’re seeing in real life involved in a network, you are much less apt to leave inflammatory comments on their comment walls or post ridiculous things.
You sort of get into a training pattern of what works, what doesn’t.
I’m not going to slam this guy when my professor is reading the RSS feed and I know I’m going to get nailed.
The professor could also do kind of a scarlet letter approach where, if someone is being an outcast or an outlaw, they could ban them from the network.
Then they can’t submit their assignments and they can’t follow what’s going on.
I mean there could be real-life repercussions.
It’s a pretty interesting social study, but I think just the act of using it every day, seeing what works, I think, trains people as to what’s appropriate and what’s not.
So I wanted to show you a little bit about how topical this stuff could be, as I’m sure you guys know in higher ed, but it really couldn’t be more timely.
I just saw a survey on that 22% of employers now are using social networks in the hiring process.
And they’re looking for things like information about alcohol or drug use, inappropriate photos, poor communication skills—which is another thing that I think using a network and seeing what works and what doesn’t can help you just generally by doing it.
People say the best way to become a good writer is to write.
The best way to be savvy on social media sites is to use them—
Bad mouthing of former employees, inaccurate qualifications, unprofessional screen names, all these things that people are looking for.
And I actually just saw a note a few weeks ago from Nebraska Athletic Director, Tom Osborne, who will now be addressing the school’s athletes about proper Internet posting behavior.
“Informing them that the athletic department will be monitoring social networking sites.”
And also Bruce Rasmussen of Creighton University has said, “At Creighton University in Omaha, athletes are required to read and sign an ‘Internet ethics’ policy that cautions them to be careful about what they post online and warns them that the athletic department will be watching.
In my opinion, if I see anything that affects them, the team, the athletic department or the university in a negative way, I’ll handle it any way I see fit.
Refusal to take inappropriate material down could range from suspension to dismissal.”
So you could see that this kind of stuff is certainly becoming much more serious.
I think rather than do the scare tactics and ban behavior altogether, I think it’s a little bit smarter to not swim against the tide, but embrace it.
But do it in a smart way and educate them about how to use it in the classroom and how to use it going forward.
So that’s all I’ve got in terms of educational stuff.
I don’t know how much time we have, are we running out?
Doug: No. It’s perfect.
Kyle Ford: We’re good? Ok.
Doug: Yeah, we’ve got a little bit of time for Q and A.
Kyle Ford: That’s great. I can have questions, or I have a couple sneak peeks and some other stuff if you’d like to see what’s coming, what has come out, and what’s coming up on Ning.
I could show you that. Ok. I’ll show you very quickly.
So this also applies to higher education, and you’ve seen at the conference here, the iPhone interfaced to the network.
So this is something that we rolled out about a week ago, and it’s been pretty successful.
We did it for the iPhone, initially, because it’s sort of the sexiest device right now.
As an added bonus, Google’s Android platform, which is rolling out in a couple of weeks, I think actually maybe sooner than that, on T-Mobile.
The browser is also web kit based, so we get that for free by doing this, which is very cool.
And we’ll also be rolling out other devices, but I think what makes this interesting in a classroom setting is, like I talked about, the asynchronous communication.
So having a classroom social network in your hand makes you a lot more engaged.
If I think of something, oh cool! I can contribute to the discussion wherever I am.
It’s also, I think as you guys have seen, anyone who’s been using the iPhone version, I’m like a crack addict would be checking it, seeing what’s going on in the conference, what’s happening.
I’ve become a lot more engaged when wit hit’s with me all the times.
If I have two minutes, I whip it out, I check it out.
I think you become even more engaged in classroom discussions or what’s going on if something is with you at all times.
It’s pretty interesting stuff.
This is something that we’re launching on Thursday, and I think really opens the doors for a lot of things.
This is a quote from Bill Joy of Sun, “Most of the smart people in the world don’t work for your company.”
So it’s something that we’ve thought about at Ning for a while.
We talked about how people can decentralize their code and really hack on their own social network, do whatever.
But we’ve been looking for a way for awhile to let third party developers write applications for Ning.
So in the case of a classroom setting, you might have a campus intranet or some kind of proprietary system that you might want to integrate into a social network.
But we obviously don’t offer that as one of our drag and drop options, but what we’ve decided to do is go with Google’s OpenSocial.
So if you don’t know what OpenSocial is, if you’re familiar with Facebook apps, a lot of them are frivolous like a poke a sheep or throw a ninja star at someone.
That kind of stuff. But essentially they’re applications that can tie into what Mark Zuckerberg calls your social graphs.
They’re applications that can talk to your friends, send invitations, and do all sorts of different things.
And Google’s response was called OpenSocial, and it is basically a way for application developers to write an application once, and then for anyone that adopts OpenSocial, that application will run within.
So people that have adopted it so far have been MySpace, probably the biggest one, Hi5, Orkut, lots of different containers on the Web.
So we’ll be turning it on across the half a million networks on Thursday.
I’ll show you a little bit what it looks like.
Basically what we’re trying to do is we’ll certainly have some fun and frivolous applications and that’s great. People love those and games.
But also introduce some functionality that is missing currently from the Ning platform, but could be addressed by third parties, things like file sharing, and a service called that’ll be doing one.
This is just a fun one. You can display items in your rental cube.
This opens the door to things like live video streaming like I talked about, for discussions.
Anything that you can pretty much imagine that you would want meshed into your social network will be able to be done.
And these things also have their own full pages so not just little modules like widgets.
They can have a full page for more functionality.
You can add a tab at the top.
So I think in the classroom, people will be able to check Internet stuff, be able to check their email, vote on presentations, all that kind of stuff.
And it’s also an opportunity for IT students or CS students to learn how to develop open social apps as this stuff becomes more popular.
You could actually say you’re developing an app that works with our classroom social network and then put it in and put it to good use.
So that’s about it. I’m going to open it to any questions.
Doug: Questions anybody?
Audience 1: I’m relaying a question here off of a Twitter from Mark Greenfield.
He was wondering, “Are there any plans of making it so you can transfer ownership of one social network to another?”
Kyle Ford: To another? Yeah. So that’s been a huge sticking point for us.
So what we can do now is we actually let you change the email of who owns the social network.
So that’s one easy is way to do it.
Changing the content and the ownership from one what we call Ning ID to another is something we can’t do currently, but we’re looking to do it in the future.
It’s certainly been something that’s done, but right now, we simply say switch the email ownership over to someone else.
That’s another thing. To kind of build off that real quickly: one of the things that’s interesting about Ning is we’re very much about data portability.
Not locking you in. So you can export.
When you set up a network, you can create profile questions that people sign up.
You can export all that information as a CSV file.
In addition, all the content that gets uploaded can be accessed through our API’s and pulled out so it’s not a black hole that the info goes into. Anybody else?
Doug: Anybody?
Audience 2: Thanks. Could you just elaborate on the public/private, how you would handle in classroom versus for the public to see?
Kyle Ford: Yeah, just how they’re set up essentially.
So we have a number of different levels. There’s public where the whole network can be seen by everyone and once someone wants to interact, like post a comment or add a video, at that point in the register, that’s what most large media brands do.
There’s public where online, the homepage can be seen and to get even further in, you have to sign up so that kind of encourages sign ups if you want to do that.
And there’s private where everything is private until you join, but people can still join.
And there’s completely locked down private, which requires invitations to join.
So that’s what we typically see in classrooms who want to keep things safe.
Audience 3: I’m going to repeat a question that I got from some of the professors at my university.
Kyle Ford: Sure.
Audience 3: Why Ning versus Blackboard?
I mean, I use Ning because it’s what the students would use, but it seems like we’re seeing a lot of the same things.
Kyle Ford: Yeah. Certainly, we’re not an ostrich with our head in the sand.
There are certainly tons of options out there. I am biased obviously.
I think Ning is simple because it’s hosted.
I mean you can domain map it but it’s hosted.
For some people that’s a turn off, and for some people that’s great.
They don’t want to deal. The social networking part is complex but not overcomeable.
A lot of the stuff like transcoding video, general scalability and rolling out the new features we roll out, I think are one of the big benefits.
Like I said, about every two or three weeks we add new stuff.
We just added live chat, things like that.
To do that yourself, or to do a manual install, is usually a pain, but if you stay centralized and customize it, by virtue of Ning getting updates, you get a lot of updates too.
Audience 4: How do you address FERPA issues?
I mean with Blackboard I know, for us, we have to host all those on campus.
But then if we’re hosting off-site, those violate our FERPA regulations.
So how do you address those?
Kyle Ford: It’s still a gray area. Some people are seeing what works, what doesn’t, what policies they can change.
We’re obviously secure, and we’ve talked to people about what works with us with their institution, but yeah, it’s something we’re negotiating as we get bigger.
Audience 4: Do you have any plans then to allow campuses to host on campus?
Kyle Ford: Yeah. People have asked us if we will ever do an installable version.
As of right now, no.
It’s largely because the way Ning is architected is that we have what we call the core, which actually runs on Java on Solaris Systems.
That’s what powers everything, handles the video transcoding, all the scary stuff stirred in.
And on top of that is a layer called the “playground,” which is PHP, and that is what everyone can change.
So they’re very intimately tied together right now.
Maybe in the future, but yeah, as of right now we’re pretty much hosted.
Doug: I understand those servers all live on a floor that other people aren’t allowed on. It’s like a dark scary place.
Kyle Ford: Yes. There’re armed guards. [Laughter]
Audience 5: I was just curious if your APIs allow you to pre-populate groups from, say, a student system.
Kyle Ford: Yeah. So they are two-way APIs.
I’m certainly not a developer that would speak in depth without looking like a fool to you.
But yes, we have seen people that will create scripts that can do pre-population and stuff.
But yeah, there are ways to do almost anything.
It depends on your level of techno-knowledge obviously. But, yeah.
Doug: It looks like we’ve got time for maybe one or two more questions.
Audience 6: Kyle, what sort of analytic solutions does Ning have built into it?
Kyle Ford: Yes. So initially, we did our own very rudimentary analytics that were not great by any means.
As we scaled, we realized we wanted to put more effort into the feature rather than into the analytics.
So we may, at some point, add them, but right now, we simply provide a place for you to paste in external tracking code so we recommend to synch it up with Jeff, Google Analytics, as our primary source for people.
I’ve used stuff like Omniture, all over the place.
So we just say bring your analytics to the table and let them put it in.
Audience 7: Hi, Kyle!
Kyle Ford: Hey!
Audience 7: Question to you. With everything that’s happened with Facebook and their battle with RockYou and Slide View and all that, and with the app store and their interesting vetting process, I’m curious how you guys are going to do that with OpenSocial.
Kyle Ford: This is happening right now.
Audience 7: I know there was that one unspeakable thing that you guy had to take down. That certain widget lab.
Kyle Ford: Widget Laboratory, yeah.
Audience 7: Yeah.
Kyle Ford: So I’m not going to go super in-depth into Widget Labs.
They did violate our terms of service, and I think you can follow online, especially on these sites like Tech Crunch, the back and forth of what happened.
I think that’s one of the reasons that I think OpenSocial will be important to us because it’s sort of our officially sanctioned way to develop on Ning.
Before, we were very ambiguous as to what we allowed, what we didn’t.
Doug: So does OpenSocial vet the applications or do you?
Kyle Ford: No. We are vetting them.
So the way it works is that they can submit, they can paste their own XML, URLs, and then add their own apps from anywhere if they want to.
But our official directory, which will be a part of each network, they’re all vetted before they get in.
So similar to the Apple App Store, but unlike the Apple App Store if someone does want to run their own, they can do that too.
It just won’t go through the store.
Audience 7: Got you. Thank you.
Kyle Ford: Yeah.
Audience 8: Is Ning ID the only authentication or can we hook up to LDAP XML?
Kyle Ford: Yes. So right now Ning ID is our only authentication.
We certainly heard people saying, “Are you going to support open ID?”
Things like that. It’s something we’re looking at.
Right now, it’s been pretty popular, especially as Ning grows, people tend to have a Ning ID.
One of the benefits is people are like, “Why do I want to join one more social network? I can’t take it.”
So ours is like, “You’ll join just one more, and then you join 500,000.”
So yeah, we’re not closing our ears to other authentication systems, but short term, probably not.
Doug: Well thanks, Kyle.
Kyle Ford: Thank you guys. [Applause]