As I see it, there are opportunities for improvement to the basic process here, which would include:
* granular addressability of each post
* subject indexing
That's if we do nothing more than use it's blog and forum capabilities.
Recent contacts to me regarding setting up epistemic communities have all offered to start with Drupal as a core platform. Drupal is very popular, very powerful, and flexible to the extent that it offers a huge array of plugin widgets. But, Drupal is still a conventional wiki/blog/forum platform and could use some improvements. Unlike Ning, Drupal is open source and capable of being extended/enhanced. I'm even starting to think in terms of installing a Drupal on my server for my domain webquests.org and see what it takes to make it talk webservices with my TopicSpaces subject map.
My sense of Ning so far is that it works reasonably well at the surface level of group interaction (and this may be an asset as the group opens to wider participation), but that its utility diminishes as the strands of communication deepen.
A key question, therefore, is whether we are looking for a tool that provides a basic meeting place from which deepening conversations tend to spin off to other forms of communication (including the use of our own tools) or for a single tool that can handle (most of) the social networking aspect and the deeper forms of communication.
If your sense is that a Drupal-based site might offer the latter, then we should give serious thought to migrating (at some point).
I agree that granular addressability and subject indexing would be definite pluses too.
Suggestions for other tools will be welcome from everyone as well.
I should say that I like Ning, but have a preference to be able to form deep links into the content; perhaps I just haven't found out how yet, but I'd like to be able to link to *this* post, for instance. I'd like to be able to lift ideas out of some posts at cohere. We do know that Ning knows this post's URL because they send us email links to it.
But, I don't see how to get the address short of reading the source HTML with View:Source. For instance, the href to the message to which I am responding is http://collaborativeclimate.ning.com/xn/detail/2052744:Comment:1771
That's a minor quibble. In fact, I take all that back. Dopey me. I just noticed a "permalink" button at the top of each post. Check that box, folks: Ning does granular addressability. Moving right along.
I'd like to form web services queries from this post to, say, grab something from my topic map. It might be worth trying to drop an "iframe" in one of these posts and see if it would bring up a DebateGraph instance. Right now, I don't feel like I have the flexibility in user interface control necessary to wrestle Ning into a site that would cooperate with the other sensemaking portals that exist or will soon exist. We could grant subject indexing to any site that would allow us to perform web services queries to my topic map, and that would allow us to harvest the site to find those queries.
One last quibble: I'd love to plunk tags on entries here. What am I missing? A tag cloud on the front page would be nice.
I'm going to follow this post with an experiment to see if I can pull in a web services query from TopicSpaces. Wish me luck.
I just discovered another worker who is doing sensemaking portals based on tagging and trust, with a ruby-based OSS platform called opntag with instances here, here and here. And, he (Lee Iverson) appears to be very interested in participating in this work. I plan to invite him into this tribe.
Please tell me if I am straying too far from the larger interests of this group.