It's been a fine ride on the Ning platform for Transition Ottawa. We set up the site back in July 2009. And, apart from some inflexibilities here and there, it has pretty well given a lot of what we needed -- part wiki, part social network -- and it hasn't been too technically demanding.
Ning, however, announced last week
that they will no longer be offering a free (or let's say advertising supported) service after July 2010.
Dozens of transition initiatives are running on the Ning platform, and it comes as a bit of a shock to most of the site administrators that the free ride is coming to an end. Understandably, there's a bit of a scramble going on as folks start to suss out the various alternatives.
One of the problems we face at Transition Ottawa is the time frame: July is scarcely more than 2-months away as I write this, and that's a mighty short window in which to migrate to a new platform. So we've decided to stay with Ning, and find the $19.95 a month somewhere, for the short term -- all the while scouting around for other, longer-term alternatives.
As a member, you'll notice some changes when the July switch occurs: for one thing the ads you now see on your right will disappear, freeing up a column either for our own use or for our own managed advertising programs. And the references to the ning network will be removed. At that time, we'll also be free to use our own url, without a 'ning' component, such as transitionottawa.org .The alternatives
There's an informative blog on the Transition Network site (link below) about the alternatives available to site administrators. But here's an initiative that holds particular promise: a group of transitioners are already hard at work to come up with a social networking platform built specifically for Transition Town initiatives
. They are doing so using the Drupal
content management system -- a very powerful open source software that is used by many groups and organizations and is growing in popularity. Drupal
is not for the technically faint at heart, but what the group hopes to come up with is a set of modules that a site administrator with more modest technical skills will be able to use to build his or her transition site.
For those more technically inclined, there are articles and blogs about the alternatives and the Drupal
initiative, and anyone is free to join the Drupal
Transition Town group. They hope to have a platform up and running by September or October 2010. Although I'm no Drupal
expert, I'll be following developments there with interest.
For further information, here are some relevant links:The Transition Network's perspective on the Ning situation:http://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/ed-mitchell/2010-05/ning-sit...Drupal Main SIte
:http://drupal.orgThe Drupal Transition Town Group: http://groups.drupal.org/transition-towns
I'll post here as and when further developments take place. Meanwhile, I'd welcome any comments.