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16 February 2004

ETech: Social software for children

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My talk focused on the findings of the BBC identity group’s qualitative research and usability testing with children and teens. I shared insights into Jessica and Jake's approaches to identity management, friendship and group membership, with the view to inform actual product development work in this area.

While the purpose of my talk was to stimulate interest in the question: How can we ensure children’s safety while letting them have expressive identities in social software?, I also gave some of my own opinions about the appropriateness - or not - of existing social software, and speculated about some positive future directions that wikis and weblogs could take (e.g. using RSS syndication to involve parents in the moderation of social spaces for children). I then very briefly presented my work-in-progress on a site for children who collect things (design-only so far) - WikiWorm. Thanks to Matt for his design work and Deborah for her delightfully wriggly worm logo.

My motivation is to ensure that children continue to have the right to be present in public; to enjoy the benefits of social software and the good social capital it can generate, and to have a public voice. Digital spaces are particularly important given the social context in the UK, where a child playing freely outside is less common and teens don’t feel welcome in public space.

My presentation (with additional notes) is now available for download - sorry for the delay. Many other ETech 2004 presentations are available on the O'Reilly conference site and session notes are on their wiki. There is also talk of a ConConUK, which I'll definitely make it to if it's on the 23rd.

I hope to share some of my emerging thoughts about this year's conference here, as soon as they've emerged ;-)

Posted at 11:57 AM in Children and teens, Identity, Social software | Permalink

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Comments

Just read your Etech presentation and I must say it was a real relief. It's refreshing to hear someone talk about social software for kids and put their online safety before tracking their habits to better market products to them.

Social software networks for kids are going to get much bigger in a very short time and addressing safety issues now will benefit all. Great presentation - sorry I wasn't at Etech to hear it. I'm very intrigued by your Wikiworm project and would love to learn more.

Posted by: liam at 19 Feb 2004 03:20:20

I was alerted to this by Corante; much food for thought. Thank you. Curiously, I was just discussing the potential for school wiki projects with a group of colleagues today, so it's most timely. Like Liam, I'd love to see more of Wikiworm, too.

Posted by: Ian Grove-Stephensen at 22 Feb 2004 21:22:58

Thanks both. I'll be posting more about WikiWorm here, as and when I get a chance to develop it.

btw, I love your star-bellied sneetches analysis of Orkut, Liam.

Posted by: Foe at 24 Feb 2004 18:01:55

"How can we ensure children’s safety while letting them have expressive identities in social software?" - the question is really important and complicated. I also think we should ensure that children continue to have the right to be present in public, even if can't fully protect them now.

Posted by: Dan at 9 Jun 2004 03:47:15

I know that it's been 2 1/2 years since you posted this but I wanted to tell you how relevant and useful it is. For a freelance portal client, I'm working on recommendations for kids content. This is a very level and thorough set of recommendations. It still goads me that I missed the presentation of this at Etech in 04.

Posted by: molly at 19 Nov 2006 15:02:57