6 rules for using free services

With the withdrawal of the free version of Ning being announced on their blog, I’ve witnessed some interesting responses. One colleague was rather dismayed as he was just about to use Ning for a new social community he was setting up. This simply emphasised to me the differences people have towards the philosophies underpinning current technology and innovation. For me it’s not about a service being withdrawn and then going into panic mode, but perhaps we do need something like this to remind us of modern working practices.

Here’s some comments:

  1. A service can be withdrawn anytime. It seems obvious, but many become lulled into a false sense of security.
  2. Treat such events as opportunities. When this happens it allows you to examine what you are doing, how you are working, and revise your practices. Update and improve your practice. After using Ning for a few years perhaps it’s time for a change.
  3. Always be on the lookout for alternatives. New and better services are springing up all the time. Keep experimenting.
  4. Always have a backup plan. If a particular service is vital to your activities, back up the data you hold with that service using another similar service. E.g. back up your social bookmarking by using Diigo and Delicious, store copies of your blog posts elsewhere.
  5. Don’t be too precious about you stuff. Consider if it really matters if some things are lost. I recently cleared out the garage and found a right load of rubbish I’d been clinging on to; research from nigh-on 20 years ago, I’m not actually going to miss it now it’s gone into recycling.
  6. Keep moving, things change (it’s the only sure thing), just deal with it.

It also emphasised to me the importance of the PLN. After starting a discussion about the loss of the free Ning service, there was a flurry of alternative solutions offered.

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