I’m a believer in social networking–so much so that I think the SN model is taking over other 2.0 platforms such as blogging, podcasting, wikis, and microblogging. And as any reader of this blog knows, I have long advocated for Ning as a great social networking tool.

So, I am excited that Ning has developed some cool new applications. They’ve always had widgets and gadgets (never could tell these two apart), but now Ning has created applications with third-party developers–applications that tie directly into Ning. So, for instance, administrators can install an application and make it available to site members, rather than having to route them off-site to third-party services.

What does all this tech talk mean? In short, your class Ning can be more powerful than ever. So far, for instance, my favorite new Ning app is Huddle Workspace, which allows users to upload and share files with fellow site members of their choice. I’m looking forward to installing this on a few of the Nings I currently run, including the MCTE site, the new Shakespeare Connects Conference Site, and my Vampire Literature class site. I’ll keep exploring these apps as Ning releases new ones.

My guess is that Google is going to buy Ning or another mainstream social networking site sometime in the near future. I mean, does anyone actually use Orkut?