Preface: Why am I scribbling notes in a blog post?
- The schedule says to read + I cannot read without questioning what I read + we are apparently to show we have “engaged” with the modules;
- It is somewhat like the posts by bloggers at a conference; except that
- Even if I am not completely synthesising as I go (because that will come later and there is an earlier assignment to complete) the prospect of publishing makes me tidy and organise my notes as I go… a pre-synthesis of sorts.
- Because I like to finish what I started (in Part 1).
Ah, lovely: an easy to read organised article.
Aside from the assertions made as if fact without indicating why the author believes it, eg:
Bright colors will easily capture and hold a child’s attention for long periods of time. … colors make a big impression on children’s young minds.
And, aside from the apparently illogical argument: That because [apparently self-evident] not many websites aimed at adult audiences would succeed with the color combinations used in the screenshots he has captured (of sites designed for kids), we should when designing a site for kids, “use bright, vivid colors that will visually stimulate in an unforgettable way”.
In the end, Lazaris offers a neat summary of his points. None of them address the social networking theme of this subject, even if at least one example (Club Penguin) has social aspects to my knowledge. I have no young children to hand with whom to test any of the arguments, which apparently rest on the fact that the big companies making the websites will have (because they can afford it) extensively user tested with children.
Oh, the article is not as interesting as a few of the comments it received:
- BTP (2010), described results of her actual testing, and made the point I thought while reading: that the “kids” range is so broad. While she argues that it would not be possible to design for 2-3 year olds the same as for 8-9 year olds; as an unschooler I note that differences are less noticeable between ages than between interests and cognitive style. Reading ability might factor in depending on the context; but the content will be most vital. Do read that comment, it is longer than I would quote but not too long :-). It also links to Jakob Nielsen’s 2010 Alertbox on usability in designing for children. One of the children in Jakob’s study appears to disagree with my view that age is less of an issue, except that it is based on the child’s language:
Children are acutely aware of age differences: at one website, a 6-year-old said, “This website is for babies, maybe 4 or 5 years old. You can tell because of the cartoons and trains.” (Although you might view both 5- and 6-year olds as “little kids,” in the mind of a 6-year-old, the difference between them is vast.)
whereas I have observed that children of the same age vary in opinion about what is “baby”ish often influenced by who is around them at the time.
- MKH (2009) says that cross-language/culture comparisons could be interesting
- Box (2009), on “constraints when designing educational kids websites” to be used in schools: quality of hardware, supported software (eg Flash, Java), and connection speeds, apply equally to libraries.
- Sandy (2011) also reported from actual investigation with children: that they object to being patronised. Sandy links to the Victorian (Australia) Education Department’s three separate target ranges. The pages appear to be directories to other sites, rather than material created by the department. Potential use as start page perhaps.
- p33p (2011) pointed out that Flash content is not served by mobile devices (whether Android or ipad). (is that so? I thought it was just my Xoom?).
- But it is only when Daniel (2011) (who works on Behind the News, according to an earlier comment) pipes in that the topic of interpersonal interactivity as experienced in social networking technologies (rather than just hyperlink interactivity) comes close to arising.
So, finally a reference to one social networking technology and one sociable self-publishing technology (Youtube). However there is no analysis about whether any non-social website can be enhanced or improved by retro-fitting social features. I suspect this OLJ activity is a red herring, or colluding in a delusion.
Purpose & ‘social’
For libraries considering designing websites for children, the first question is the intended purpose of the website. If it is to serve as a directory to “safe” or “educational” web resources for children to use in the library (sure why not invent another wheel) or to provide library-original content – then the ‘best practices’ the above article lists (if you can believe it) may be useful – for a limited period.
Interesting questions: How many visits does it take before a child is bored by the library’s website? OR: Which library’s children’s website is enjoyed by children the longest over repeated visits?
Otherwise, one would need to look elsewhere for ideas:
- For libraries serious about being ‘participatory’ on the web with their community of children – what kinds of web-based participation are they open to, and if their young patrons are interested in that kind of interaction what would incline them to do so at the library website instead of the world-wide spaces designed specially for it? (Calls to mind a quote I have somewhere from Montaigne, about his willingness to make public (through his books) things he would not tell an individual man – is the local library too intimate an audience?)
- Back to the directories:
- Would there be a way to socialise this directory? To reveal how often each link is used and enable children and their parents to express like/dislike (Vote) and leave comments.
- Would a good catalogue be able to both capture and serve the links, images, descriptions and user-contributed data? Do any libraries use their catalogues to store and serve website recommendations?
- Is that a pointless line of enquiry because the success of social sites rests on their having many participants. If I am looking at local and university libraries, perhaps their community of interested participants would be too small? Unless we start talking about consortia efforts.
Libraries and MySpace
This article is very dated. It is also weak. As evidence that a university is communicating “organically” rather than the “old” one-way style it points to its MySpace page having followers. Nothing about conversation. The ‘friends of friends’ of those followers who represented a fraction of the university’s student body was described as “a wide audience” that the university would allegedly reach “by simply ensuring that the content on their page is current and useful”. No evidence that followers read the university’s content.
Great then we get into the ‘can’s and ‘should’s with no evidence of positive impact. EG: Don’t be tourists…don’t dress up tired messages … be purposeful and “push users towards resources such as online libraries or catalogues”. “Libraries can help users by making more information rich profiles their ‘top friends’ and hence more prominent.” Oh and this is good: ” libraries should treat personal messages via MySpace as they would emails” – respond in up to 4-7 days?
Governor, Hinchcliffe & Nickull (2009)
So far I’ve only made a skim read. Not seeing anything particularly new, or anything directly relevant to the task, the only takeaway I have for now is the summary in Chapter 4.1.5 of “five great ways to harness collective intelligence from your users:”
- Be the hub of a data source that is hard to recreate
… such as Wikipedia … and eBay … Digg … and Delicious …
- Gather existing collective intelligence
… the Google approach. …
- Trigger large-scale network effects
…Katrinalist … CivicSpace … Mix2r
- Provide a folksonomy
…Let users tag the data they contribute or find … make those tags available to others so they can discover and access resources in dynamically evolving categorization schemes …
- Create a reverse intelligence filter
Hyperlinking: Manners, engagement, voting
Readers might note that I did not link to the final articles. They’re listed below if you want to read it for yourself. The final one was a book with no online source not behind a paywall of which I am aware.
My view on hyperlinking is generally to link as much as is relevant and potentially useful either to me reading back or a reader who falls here. I also love it when someone who has discovered that I have linked to them, visits to see what I wrote and says something constructive. Therefore I will hyperlink even in cases of disagreement, when the prospect of discussion might be fruitful.
However, I also see the “voting” factor of a hyperlink. Search engines use them to give a target more ‘likedness’ as a relevance indicator. In this case my reading was externally required. Writing about it was not required, but on the off-chance another student reads here, it is another opportunity for discussion–within that limited circle.