Om points to what sounds like an incredible leap forward in the web 2.0 space...a meta-application framework for developing social network applications.
From Ning's homepage: "Ning is a free online service (or, as we like to call it, a Playground) for building and using social applications.
Social apps are web applications that enable anyone to match, transact, and communicate with other people."
This will supposedly give one the ability to build your own "take" on flickr, for instance.
Just looking through the Ning site at what people are building with the framework is interesting...look for the "Pivot" section.
This meta-app, if it works as advertised, seems like it has the potential to spawn an even bigger wave of niche development. I imagine this will cause a ripple at the Web 2.0 conference today. It will be fun to track the feedback that rolls in...especially since Andreesen is one of the marquee names involved.
The first website I ever designed and built was for a non-profit...The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). Since then, the majority of the websites I have designed, built, or managed as a freelancer, in my tenure as Director of New Media at Metropolitan Group, and now as principal of Unified Studies, are for non-profits.
Just about every one has the same concern at some point, and that can be boiled down to "most bang for the buck".
Whitney Smith, the CEO of Girls for a Change, a DC non-profit, has a guest post on The Voce Nation, where she outlines the impact that having a blog has had on her non-profit.
She says "Since we have learned about the basics of blogging and how to apply it to have a major impact on the strategic goals of our organization I have become a fervent believer and promoter of blogging to the non-profit sector."
This frame of mind is something that I have been trying to instill in non-profit clients for 10 years....over time, your on-line strategies can provide the most cost effective outreach possible. If you are a non-profit who doesn't have an on-line strategy written right into your business plan...it's time to step up to the plate. If you don't, because you consider yourself or your organization to be "non-technical"....well, with the tools available today...that is no longer a valid excuse!
Read/Write Web has another great post about Web 2.0, this one focusing on API's, and includes this quote
"the philosophy of Web 2.0 is to let go of control, share ideas and code, build on what others have built, free your data."
That is a good summing up, in my opinion.
There is a quote from Robert Scoble about a potential business out there that someone could be building atop the mashed-up web...
I think it is really interesting how, although the philosophy and goals of many a web 2.0 advocate is the "leveling of the playing field"...how people like Scoble and definitely Fred Wilson are putting a top-down spin on innovation that I believe is a new phenomenon. Fred messes around with some new thing, flickr, what have you, and then, every month or so, comes out with a big, well thought out post that says essentially "wouldn't it be cool if...?" ...and I can just see many an entrepeneur nodding their head, and saying, "Yes, yes it would be cool! I have that right here!"...or...."by golly, that is clever...that gives me an idea of another way to think about my gizmo!"
Maybe it goes without saying, but to have the transparency to see/read what the top of the food chain is thinking about/excited about, is really interesting, and I think it actually sends a really positive message that everyone, bottom-up, top-down, are looking for ways to drive innovation.