The fall of Ning

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Ning, the network of social networks, and the one that we are using in class is making massive staff cutbacks and has announced the end of free services for its users. From the approximately 20 million people that monthly uses ning, the few premium accounts will have to pay even more, and the standard users will be asked to pay a big amount. One year ago, everything was good news for this platform. Around a million social networks had been built on it and Ning had offered 90 different applications for social networks creators.

Then, last month, Gina Bianchini (CEO of the company) left Ning without much explanations. 40% of the employees were dismissed and Jason Rosenthal, the new CEO of Ning, announced after a month in his new desk that the only way he could find to redirect the way of the company was making the premium accounts more expensive and force all the users to pay for using the ning platform. In spite of that, he promised new contents for premium users and assured that Ning users will not regret paying this small quantities and will remain “happy”.

But the only problem for Ning is not the loss in their benefits but the creation of new platforms that also provide users a way of developing their own personal social networks. Grou.ps; Spruz; SocialGO; BuddyPress (part of WordPress); Loved By Less or Elgg are some of a big amount of websites that have just started to fight between them in order to get their own part of the social networks market. As the experts say, Spruz is the one that is specifically reaching out to Ning users because makes publicity of itself as a free platform with free software and that will remain the same always.

I hope this website won´t disappear but in its five years of life it has not reach the popularity of other social networks such as Facebook or Twitter and, now, they are paying for this.

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Mashable, one of the latest Internet phenomena.

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In July 2005, a blog called Mashable was founded in order to focus on Web 2.0 and Social Media news. Pete Cashmore, now 25 years old and its founder and CEO, has the amazing quantity of 1,992,643 followers on Twitter; however, he founded this blog when he was 19 and from a strange location, for nothing related with social media: a small town in the north of Scotland. The blog started focusing on the latest news on the Internet and continuously updated its post with new information. In a few months it entered the Top Ten Technorati blogs in the World and became famous.

Lots of traditional media from different countries (but specially from the United States) have quoted Mashable in the technology sections of their newspaper´s webpages such as nytimes.com; washingtonpost.com; and other technology publications. Cashmore was selected as one of the 25 Top Forbes Web Celebrity in 2007, while Mashable was chosen as a must-read site by Fast Company and PC Magazine. The same year, BusinessWeek featured Mashable as one of the world’s most profitable blogs.

What´s more! Pete Cashmore has become such a celebrity in technological events that he now writes a weekly column on technology and media at CNN. The site serves over 10 million monthly unique readers and also employs 15 full time staff. It has more than 50 regular guest contributors and reports millions of dollars in revenue through its advertising and events businesses.

Just to show you how “easy” was for Pete Cashmore to found a website like this one, I am going to stream a video from Youtube that has leaded in the last week to 1418 tweets, 1073 shares on Facebook and 26 buzzes (Google Buzz). It is part of the Top Ten list about LEGO music videos on Youtube. As you can see, anything can be news in citizen journalism.


Ground Report

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As I want to start this blog by getting off on the right foot, I thought I should start talking about this webpage that, although it started as a project in 2006, nowadays is becoming more and more important and has started making benefit of the publication of their own news, created by common Internet users who witness anything and want to tell it to the World. Ground report is a news platform that combines digital reporting tools and a selective reporter network of over 5,000 contributors to power the best global, on-the-ground news coverage. It was founded in 2006 by Rachel Sterne, a former UN reporter inspired by her experience reporting on the Security Council.

In addition, I upload this short video from an interview with Rachel Sterne, Ground Report founder:

As Mrs Sterne tells us in the video, Ground Report has already got a lot of highlights like the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Tibetan protest at Beijing Olympics in 2008 or the Iranian election protests on 2009. BusinessWeek also named it as one of America´s “most promising enterprises” with a mission to democratize de media. The funniest thing is that, before starting this project, Rachel Sterne hadn´t even heard about citizen journalism; and now, she is one of the most important journalist in the 2.0 Web.