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Ning cancels “free”

Big news today from Ning: no more free networks (and 40% staff layoffs). Hosted services are great – as long as you can pull your data out (a significant value to Google’s data liberation project). Many educators use Ning for creating social networks. But, for Ning, ad revenue has not been able to meet their financial needs. Which is why I’m quite pleased that we’re using Elgg for our institutional learning/collaboration network at Athabasca University: the Landing. If you decide not to host your own site, at least make sure you can own and export your own data on your terms.

Is this a commentary on “free” as a business model?