You can tell the relatives are coming to town soon. Everyone’s trying to clean up their acts so Aunt Edwina won’t be able to find out what naughty things they’ve been up to.
For example: As of January 1, 2009, Ning is nixing its entire Red Light District, leading Netizens around the globe to scratch their heads and ask, What the heck is a "Ning"?
Short answer: It’s what Marc Andreessen is doing these days.
Slightly longer answer: It’s a site where you can build your own social network quickly and easily. Which means it’s attracted a fair number of folks who wanted a low cost way to build Web 2.0-ish sites based around what comes naturally (and, occasionally, unnaturally). They’ve now got less than 30 days to clean out their toy chests and find a new home. This has caused no end of grief for folks who’ve devoted quite a bit of time to building their sites.
Note: The Widget Laboratory claims to offer tools for backing up and migrating Ning photos to new sites for pornsters left in the lurch. (I haven’t tried them, so let me know if they work.)
Ning’s motto is "Create Your Own Social Network for Anything." I guess they’ll need to change that to "Create Your Own Social Network for Anything But, You Know — That Stuff."
Meanwhile, YouTube has done something similar by by changing its rules about what videos are rated "Adult only." The ‘tube already nixes any explicit videos it finds. Now it’s tightening its chastity belt by tweaking the algorithms to push the naughty stuff off the front page and to the bottom of the search results.
YouTube isn’t getting rid of the smut; it’s just hiding it in the bottom drawer of the bureau in the back of the closet, like your dad’s old copies of Penthouse.
Both Ning and YouTube face a problem that has plagued anti-porn crusaders for decades: defining what is and isn’t ‘prurient’ content. Good luck with that one.
Finally, a churchy investment group calling itself the Timothy Plan wants to save your children from the scourge of satanic video games. They’ve offered up their own ratings on 142 games from the tame (Pet Vet and Pokemon) to the demonstrably evil (just about every version of Grand Theft Auto ever made, plus a number of other highly popular titles). Think of it as one-stop shopping for folks who are looking to avoid games like that — or conversely, are looking to find the edgiest ones.
Social networks and game consoles, they’re the devil’s playthings. But Hell, you already knew that.
Naughty or nice — what’s on your shopping list this year? Post your thoughts below or email me direct: dan (at) dantynan (dot) com.
This post originally appeared on Infoworld’s Notes From the Field blog.
‘Censored’ stencil found on Subterranean Books.