Ning just relaunched (see techcrunch story). I have to hand it to them... they made a killer app. I've tried different Ning services over the past year or so and wasn't too impressed, but their new focus of EZ social network creation is phenomenal. It truly is EZ.
Here's an example... Some of you may know that I have another blog called "die old" it's about me and my struggles/adventure in losing over 100 pounds. I've found it to be a truly helpful and amazing way to get in shape (though I'm still in the process). By writing every day (as much as possible) and sharing with the world my ups and downs, I am more connected with myself and the process of losing weight than I've ever been. I have a way for me to express myself, journal, and get my frustrations out, plus a community of readers who support me by just showing up.
I've thought seriously about creating a vertical social network that allows people to have and share these same experiences. Ning has made that possible in about 15 minutes. It may not be my final solution, perhaps I'll take funding and build something custom one day, but this sure is a tremendous way to prototype the concept. And then again, it might take off on Ning. After playing with the Ning services, I see very few flaws. It seems they've thought of everything. Besides a couple of bugs that are bing fixed, and it being hammered right now by TechCrunch and probably Digg, the service is stable and speedy.
Check out the die old community. If you are so inclined, join and add me as a friend. Then start using it yourself. You'll get to experience the next wave of social network applications and maybe shed a few pounds in the process. ;)