Web registration for kids

Three girls using the computer at the grand opening.Debra Gelman writes about designing web registration processes for 6-8 year olds in A List Apart. She shares fascinating stories and best practices. For example, many parents have trained children to never reveal anything about themselves online:

“As a result, kids are wary of providing any data, even information as basic as gender and age. In fact, many kids fib about their ages online. A savvy eight-year-old girl, when prompted by the Candystand site to enter her birthdate, said, ‘I’m going to put that I’m 12. I know it’s lying, but it’s ok because I’m not allowed to tell anyone on the internet anything real about me.’…Similarly, a seven-year-old boy refused to create a Club Penguin account because it asked for a parent’s e-mail address. ‘You can’t say anything about yourself on the web. If you do, people will figure out where you live and come to your house and steal your stuff.'”

Gelman goes on to share one example of how to collect innocuous non-identifying data (e.g. grade level) without triggering children’s anxieties about sharing personal information.

She also describes the importance of using images that are “simple, clear representations of common items that are part of a child’s current context,” while trying to avoid symbolic meanings:

“It’s important to note that while pictures are useful, symbols and icons can be problematic, because, at this age kids are just learning abstract thought. While adults realize that a video camera icon means they can watch videos, kids associate the icon with actually making videos. In a recent usability test evaluating popular kids’ sites, a six-year-old girl pointed out the video camera icon and said, ‘This is cool! It means I can make a movie here and share it with my friends.’ She wasn’t able to extrapolate the real meaning of the icon based on site context and content.”

The lesson is clear: know your users.

Read the article.

Enterprise OpenSocial

Heartened to hear that this years Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco features a session on ‘OpenSocial in the Enterprise’.  Mike Gotta, an analyst from the Burton Group, describes some of the issues that OpenSocial needs to resolve to become truly applicable at the Enterprise level – these include the definition of ‘friend’ and single-signon and other authentication issues. 

But his description of the general environment that enterprise developers find themselves in is pertinent to our enterprise – the academic biomedical research institution – and his approach mirrors our thinking.  The question is, how do we tie our (academic/biomedical research-focused) development of research networking products to the trends outside of us?

We need to start designing and implementing social networking platforms that have capabilities to span internal and external audiences. While initiatives that started off in the consumer market may not have the necessary identity, security, and other necessary services – alternatives within the enterprise are often not viable for consumer environments – so we are left somewhere in the middle – with no one particularly happy. Given overall consumerization of IT trends, it seems to me at least, that it’s more viable (in the social computing realm) to start with efforts like OpenSocial and ActivityStrea.ms and evolve them for the enterprise than the other way around.

The Password Dilemma: Federated Identity Management launched at Indiana University

No more lists with numerous usernames and passwords that get lost in the end anyway. There is a solution and the University of Indiana is among the masterminds to make it work. Indiana’s federated identity management system allows researchers from across the country to access resources using the user ID and password of their home institution. If you like, take a closer look at Indiana’s CTSI website.

Mini, here is a statement by Bill Barnett: “By deploying federated identity support, the Indiana CTSI HUB can create a trusted online environment in which people can come together, easily access state-of-the-art technologies and services, and use them to work collaboratively to improve health care practice and outcomes while protecting patient privacy.”

Kristine, I remember you mentioned InCommon. The “Indiana CTSI HUB is a participant in the InCommon identity federation which currently claims 95 participating institutions; federal organizations such as the NIH, the National Science Foundation, and The Energy Sciences Network; and industry partners including Microsoft and Apple”.