Lastnight, Marc Andresson (Co-Founder of Netscape) and his people released Ning. What is Ning you may ask?

Ning is a free online service (or, as we like to call it, a Playground) for people to build and run social applications. Social “apps” are web applications that enable anyone to match, transact, and communicate with other people.

Our goal with Ning is to see what happens when you open things up and make it easy to create, share, and discover new social apps. These might include for any city, your own take on Craigslist…for any passion, your own take on…for any interest, your own take on Zagat…for any event, your own take on Flickr…for any school, your own take on the Facebook…for any topic, your own take on…for any mammal, your own take on Hot or Not or Kitten War.

You choose the app, decide for whom it’s most relevant, create the categories, define the features, choose the language – or just clone an app that’s already up and running on Ning – and be on your way.

Check out SiliconBeat for more. To me, it basically sounds like a framework for building new applications that gather information from many different sources. Or maybe a method for combining select pieces of a service into one larger service.

Richard MacManus, over at Web 2.0 Explorer makes a good point in that the API provided by various web services will become very important. Jeff Clavier points out this could end up being the meta-framework for building social media applications.

Should make for some interesting applications in the near future. All this in the move to Web 2.0, which I find to be mostly a marketing ploy. Web 2.0 can’t come about until the security is there and everyone has reliable and fast internet access.