BricaBox is a new type of service that combines elements of social networking and content creation into a medium it calls a "social content platform." The NYC-based startup hopes to do for social content what Ning did for social networks. It launches quietly early this morning in public beta.

It probably seems like a thin difference, but within the social content platform lies an elegant concept. The site delivers a platform upon which any sort of content vehicle can be built.

Out of the box options include sites for restaurant reviews, photo and map mashups and video archives among others, but the real service is in the box labeled "Create a BricaBox from Scratch."

Using the homebrew option, users can utilize BricaBox components called "blocks" to build entirely new sites with completely diverse functions all inside the site's framework. One prominent example was the Silicon Alley 100: Peoples' Choice awards of the area's most influential figures. As this video illustrates (literally), the scope of content possibilities is wide:

The beauty of the project revolves around its outward simplicity. Creating a framework that supports so many variables took some failed experiments in other Web languages, before being rewritten in PHP. According to co-founder and CTO Kyle Bragger, BricaBox was initially built with Ruby on Rails, but scalability proved impossible due to the technical complexity of the service. But therein lies the elegance.

Despite the complex actions happening under the hood, users need not know anything about Ruby or PHP or anything difficult for that matter, they need simply to have an idea and initiative. Co-founder and CEO Nate Westheimer sees the the service as a fundamental evolution in Web publishing. "Think about what Blogger was before people knew about blogs," says Westheimer. "The Web has progressed since then. Now we have a more connected Internet -- both in terms of data and socializing. The time has come for a publishing platform with both elements. BricaBox is a simple way to mix and mash the tools needed to create unique, social content websites." Westheimer claims that "no one else does that."

Whether or not the Web will embrace his concept remains to be seen, but BricaBox appears to have created something unique. As the above image shows, it's not Ning and it's not Wordpress. Tell us in the comments if you know of a similar service.