There’s been a re-launch of Ning. Ning is a great entry-level online community site. You get a blog and a forum and basic profiles and stuff. It uses the same model as LiveMansion (but is much more Webby 2.0) to address inherent issues of blogs being too limiting (because they are one-2-many) and forums being too klutzy (many2many but too much so).
What LiveMansion and Ning do is bring the experience down to one – YOU – by building everything around your profile. Think del.icio.us or Flickr logins. So YOU have a blog and YOUR fotos and stuff. Then they swarm up to your smallish network – invite your friends via address books feed on their blogs and forums, and so forth. Bung a forum on your network so you can all discuss whatever. Now take your social network and join it to others. Circles within Circles. I called it “that circle connecting to circles, geometry, maths thingie” the other day and I was told it is a Venn Diagram (or so Chris S. reliably informs me).
The central experience must be the User/Youser. It’s all about YOU after all. Second is the connections you have already made. Third is your connections of connections. Think of a warmed up, loved up LinkedIn 3 tiers of popularity.
I’m playing with Ning now for people who run small personal networks. It’s not appropriate for consumer communities, at least not yet, but if you are a NFP or just really popular it could be for you. No event manager yet, unfortunately.