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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Early iPad safety tips

It's something to think about – no filtering or other "parental control" tools for a wi-fi-enabled device that can go anywhere a kid can go. I'm referring to the iPad at the moment (because it's so new, there's no such software available for it), but the wi-fi-enabled mobility part is true of most phones that go with kids to school now (I hear a lot of parents didn't think much about parental-control software before they bought kids iPod Touches for last winter's holidays). Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt is a mom who did think about her kids connecting to the Net with her new iPad – a lot (a lot in terms of how much they wanted to use it and a lot of thinking on her part about how to keep their use constructive). Basically, all there is for the iPad so far is the filtered search offered by the major search engines. Check out Marian's advice for that under her "Browsing" subhead, and don't miss what she says about video, apps, and security (YouTube's new parental controls don't work for the iPad yet). See also "Potential iPad glitch for families."

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Better teen privacy in Google's Buzz

Google's Buzz, which makes its Gmail much more social, didn't get off to a great start, where kids' privacy was concerned. But Google has made serious strides toward fixing that, and the "Buzz Teen Safety Tips" video it just put on YouTube takes 2 minutes to show you what I mean. If your teens are using Buzz (the minimum age is 13, as with most social Web services), you might watch the video to see if there are privacy features you'd like to talk with your kids about. The five key points are 1) they can choose to make only their first and last name visible on the public profile they have to set up to use Buzz (they don't have to include a photo), 2) whatever they post is not only visible to all their followers but could also appear in Google search results; 3) BUT they can edit and delete their own posts, delete any comments on their posts, and delete comments they've made on other people's posts; 4) Buzz sends them an alert whenever someone starts following them, and they can choose to block that person (it's good to know that Buzz doesn't let the person know if they do block him or her); and 5) they can disable Buzz altogether or hide it in Gmail but still use it on their phones. Here's my last post on Buzz and a little more detail on the subject from my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid at CNET.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

YouTube's new tool for kid-safe viewing

More than 33 billion online videos were watched during December and about a third of the them were on YouTube, according to comScore's latest figures. A 2008 study by Nielsen found that YouTube was 2-to-11-year-olds' No. 1 video viewing site (see this). So parents will probably be happy to know that YouTube now has its own filter for sexually explicit or violent content. "While no filter is 100% perfect, Safety Mode is another step in our ongoing desire to give you greater control over the content you see on the site," says the YouTube blog. As their video demo shows, it's easy to activate: Just go to any YouTube page, scroll to the bottom, and click "Safety Mode is off." After clicking On or Off, you can choose either to "Save" or "Save and lock." With the former, Safety Mode is on whenever anybody's uses that browser on that computer until they change that setting (works with a rule that settings don't get changed and obedient kids). "Save and lock" allows you to log into your Google or YouTube account and lock the setting so that it can't be changed in that browser by anyone who doesn't know your password – just as with Google's SafeSearch lock (see this). [See also "Help with cyberbullying on YouTube."]

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Help with cyberbullying on YouTube

Say you're 15, care greatly about a particular environmental cause, and use your YouTube account to vlog (video blog) about it in an earnest way that triggers some really nasty comments on your page. What do you do? YouTube has some tips it blogged with just that scenario in mind, linking to the National Crime Prevention Council's new anti-cyberbullying campaign, Circle of Respect, which came up with the scenario and illustrates it here. The tips are good, basically saying: 1) Delete the comments and consider blocking the user; 2) Report hate speech (comments on race, gender, or disability); 3) If physical threats (which are illegal) are involved, talk with a trusted adult about whether to call 911; and last but far from least: 4) Be respectful yourself – treating others with civility is protective. I base that on a finding published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine in 2007: that aggressive behavior online more than doubles the aggressor's risk of victimization. For a much more thorough guide to parenting in the video age, see kid-tech expert Warren Buckleitner in the New York Times. [Meanwhile, the Italian government is getting considerable flak for proposing new Web-video rules that would require users to get clearance from the Communications Ministry before uploading their videos to sites like YouTube, The Standard reports.]

Related links

  • Our "Top 10 Safety Tips for Video-Sharing" at
  • "Parents face a new frontier: Setting electronic limits," with some individual family strategies in the Washington Post
  • Why "soft power" parenting works better here in NetFamilyNews.

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  • Thursday, January 07, 2010

    8-year-old's new media-style 15 min. of fame

    YouTube and an 8-year-old boy have gotten a whole lot of citizen marketing in the past few days – plus coverage in big-name sites like The Guardian, NPR, and the Washington Post. called "Lukeywes1234" (the boy's YouTube screenname) "The littlest YouTube sensation." Though nothing like the Susan Boyle story (but this is just a kid who never appeared on US or UK national television), it's still about the tao of fame and sometimes power on the social Web, and its particulars are that a boy below the minimum age in YouTube's terms of service established an account; posted some goofy vlog (video blog) videos of himself; had a handful of subscribers that grew quickly, with the help of either 4chan (as cited in all mainstream media reports) or eBaum's World (explained here and mentioned in comments under The Guardian's story); ended up with some 15,000 subscribers before YouTube deleted his account; and is written up in major news outlets in several countries. The deletion of his account reportedly angered Europe-based online underground troll or prankster group 4chan, which in protest declared yesterday (1/6) YouTube Porn Day, threatening to embed porn into family-friendly videos on YouTube, as it did last spring (see this, but don't worry: Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams trawled YouTube "all day for examples [of 4chan's porn], and it's a lot easier to find real porn just about anywhere else").

    Now there are nearly 250 tribute videos to Lukeywes1234 on YouTube, which has made little of all of this (but gotten lots of publicity). A YouTube spokesperson told Andy Carvin at NPR that this was just another day in the life of YouTube.

    As Salon's Williams, concludes, "A boy puts up videos of himself, shot by his grandma, posturing as hero, and in the process actually becomes something of an unlikely hero. Why? Probably because, along with laughing at the amateurishness of the whole enterprise, people feel a real sense of fondness for a sweet kid goofing around with his computer." Hope so. If it's not about a bunch of juvenile adults and/or idealogues creating a lot of drama at the expense of a sweet kid. None of the coverage says how the kid has handled insta-fame (which is probably good, they're leaving him alone!) or whether the adults in his life are offering some love and perspective on all this. The online safety issue most on my mind these days is how we help all kids – not just famous ones – find time for reflection and independent thought amid the increasingly 24/7, reality-TV drama of schoolkid life (MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle writes compellingly about “the tethered self” here).

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    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    YouTube, Facebook & friends' videos

    YouTube's getting a little more social with Facebook. It's a little buggy as yet, CNET reports, but "YouTube is pushing its Facebook Connect integration further by allowing its users to see the videos that their friends share on Facebook. YouTube users had previously been able to find their Facebook friends on YouTube as well as update their Facebook profile with their various actions from the site." This certainly makes sense. Here's YouTube's version of the story. There's a screenshot of what the integration looks like in Facebook in the CNET article.

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    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Thankful for new media & what they're teaching us

    Here in the US, this is kind of, partially a week of reflection and thanksgiving, as many of us shop, cook, travel, cook some more, and feast and some of us try to keep it really simple. But for the reflection and thanksgiving part, treat yourself to this enriching example of participatory media, a video by Michael Wesch and his students (the main one on this page). Then treat yourself to Professor Wesch's whole playlist on the right-hand side of that page. These students of anthropology – of humanity, really – understand social media from the inside out, so this is efficient, fun, joyful, profound, unsettling, mixed-media learning for us people who grew up in the profoundly different mass-media era.

    In 12 years of writing about youth and tech, I have not seen a better resource for parents, teachers, police, and policymakers working in the youth and online-safety or 21st-century-learning spaces (pls see Related links below for teaching and parenting resources). [I've seen many, many great resources, mind you, but nothing quite as moving in the social-media space as this one.] Young people deserve to have their parents and teachers informed. And we all deserve exposure to the care and quality of thought that went into producing and presenting this 55.5-minute video that was presented at the US Library of Congress June 2008 (months later Wesch was named Professor of the Year; see his brief acceptance speech here). It's a global picture, which is essential, I think, given the nature of new media, and naturally it's not entirely a pretty picture – some viewers may find parts of it disturbing. But what picture of humanity is entirely beautiful? What's important is the humanity.

    I think Mike Wesch understands cultural shifts, media shifts, and human beings well for two reasons: 1) his own shift from 18 months' anthropological field work in a remote (Iron Age?) village in Papua New Guinea to teaching the anthropology of social media in and with YouTube in 21st-century Kansas and, 2) as his talks and sound bytes indicate, he loves working with people and seems to have a way of bringing out the best in them – even when the picture is grainy. You'll get that in his playlist.

    Related links

  • Parents, here's why we need to understand new media: Prof. Henry Jenkins at the University of Southern California says it's because social media "weren't part of the world of our childhood," and "now we're in a space where we're dealing with stuff our parents never had to deal with.... But we have to be open to the new ... there's much more valuable stuff here [online] than risky stuff.... At the end of the day, they need us to be informed about this. They don't need us looking over their shoulders; they need us watching their backs.... We have to recognize that they're going some place we never went and that's what's exciting and what's terrifying about the present moment," he says. [Thanks to for linking to this clip at the MacArthur Foundation site.]
  • Teachers, if you wonder how Prof. Wesch uses new-media tools in his classes, he describes how (both in his huge undergraduate anthropology classes and small graduate-level digital ethnography classes) in a talk he gave at the University of Manitoba a little over a year ago. You can read a description of how the class is set up here, with an insightful comment below it from Bryan, a teacher of 9th- and 10th-graders, about how social-media tools can be used at those grade levels.
  • Here's the spring 2009 work of Wesch's class - a 6-min. video they created out of the class's "trailers," or spring semester projects (each student produces one) - and one of the trailers.
  • This month YouTube named Wesch its Curator of the Month. He explains all that here.
  • My previous piece on Wesch, August 2008: "Watch this video, parents"

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  • Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Tools & sites aimed at better kid time online

    There seems to be this firewall between kids' products that kids like and kids' products that parents like. It's rare and amazing when that wall collapses, but I think what helps is when the product, while passing parental muster, is just plain useful to kids.

    Kid-friendly online utilities

    Children's Web browser Kidzui meets those criteria – after all, kids need to browse the Web, and a lot of parents want them to do so in a kid-friendly environment. Kidzui is a very large "online playground," with more than 2 million kid-appropriate sites to browse. I wrote about this and some other great parent-approved services last fall, but now Kidzui has added another kid-friendly utility – one of those social-media tools like Twitter, Facebook, or good o' email that users of all ages didn't know they needed till they tried it or till all the VIPs in their lives used it. For kids, the utility is a site for viewing and sharing videos, a very social experience. Kidzui's is called ZuiTube. ZuiTube claims to have the biggest collection of child-appropriate videos in existence; it doesn't say how many but that those videos are found in "6,000 channels," which should keep kids safely entertained for a while. ZuiTube and Kidzui were *very* briefly reviewed at CNET recently.

    2 brand-new 'products': FaceChipz,

    One is social, the other educational. FaceChipz may get the nod from tweens partly because it's very attractively packaged and partly because it's a rarity: a social site (not a virtual world, which is more common) for people under 13. [If you're under Facebook or MySpace's minimum age (13), and your parents aren't, like many parents, looking the other way where your online social networking's concerned, you have few options; two somewhat similar options are, which checks parents registering their kids against a sex-offender database, and, which sells accompanying security hardware for $24.99.] For kids, the trick with these products is going to be luring their friends who are, right or wrong, already in Facebook or MySpace into this very closed, safe (in terms of adults gaining access, not necessarily peer harassment) social options with them.

    FaceChipz, just launched in beta, describes itself as "Facebook with training wheels." As its president, George Zaloom, put it in an email, "For the kids, we tried to make the site fun and the chips collectable. For the parents we tried to make the site SAFE and the chips affordable." The chips themselves come in $4.99 packs of 5 sold at ToysRUs and in the FaceChipz site. Users register the chips online with the code on the back of the chip, then give them to their friends. Once the chip recipient registers its code, giver and receiver are linked and the code becomes invalid for anyone else (so it can't be used again by anyone creepy). The more chips kids buy, the more friends they can add or points they earn toward virtual goods in the site. After they register, their parents have to verify them so the site complies with the US's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. To verify, all that's required is a $1 fee paid once by credit card (no proof of guardianship is required).

    There's a brand-new educational virtual world out there,, that may turn out to please both parent and child. It's a good sign that Washington Post tech writer Mike Musgrove tested it on his eight-year-old, who told his dad, "I think this is educational" but then actually stuck around "to explore the virtual theme park, intrigued by the prospect of winning and spending the game's 'wonder dollars' to buy virtual food and loot with which to decorate his virtual treehouse," Musgrove writes. He, the 8-year-old, doesn’t care that gave the site 5 stars, but another good sign was that eMarketer senior analyst and parent of a 6- and 8-year-old really liked it too. Maybe her kids did as well? Musgrove doesn't say.

    The Post reporter does say that WonderRotunda was created by a concerned dad who wanted to create an alternative to Club Penguin and Webkinz for his daughter and her peers ( is more social, and so is, with the added element of trading in "real world" stuffed animals).

    It seems that's the other divide at the pre-tween level (around ages 5-9): Either they're interacting with the site (as in and WonderRotunda in ways designed to enrich or educate) or they're interacting with peers (socializing and playing games) in an environment run by companies that usually moderate and/or restrict communication for users' protection. The very popular, by Pearson Education's Family Education Network, tries to straddle that divide by being both fun and educational (check out what Undercover Mom says about it: Part 1 and Part 2).
    I'm rooting for these companies that work hard to meet the exacting standards of kids as well as parents! Let me know if your kids like them - and about other virtual worlds, videogames, and blogging services that work for under-13s at your house (via anne[at]

    Related links

  • Help with YouTube safety: As the world's 4th-most-visited site on the Web, YouTube is a fact of life in most households. Marian Merritt, parent and Symantec's Net-safety advocate, recently wrote up some meaty advice for families that also, importantly, raises some parental awareness.
  • Google is YouTube's parent, and here's is Google's own advice for "Making YouTube a safer place"
  • Recommended sites for tween girls from Connect with Your Teens blogger and parent Jennifer Wagner.

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  • Thursday, October 15, 2009

    1 billion videos viewed (a day)

    That's what co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley said as he marked the third anniversary of YouTube's acquisition by Google, the San Jose Mercury News reports. He added that YouTube is seeing more demand for longer format videos, meaning movies and TV shows. "In August, for example, YouTube said it would add clips from Time Warner programming such as 'Gossip Girl' and 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'. The deal allowed Time Warner to set up individual channels and sell ads to accompany the clips, with YouTube taking a share of the revenue." But just as important as figuring out the revenue stream, I think, is the need for this giant, unwieldy, all-thing-to-all-users site to figure out how to foster more of a sense of community (or communities) which adds a measure of security and well-being and protects both the community and its users from abuse as users feel they're stakeholders in community well-being. Call it inside-out online safety.

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    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    25 billion+ videos viewed

    That was just this past August in the US, according to comScore's latest figures - yet another online video-viewing record. More than 10 billion of those views were on Google sites, with YouTube representing 99% of Google video traffic. In terms of people, "161 million US Internet users watched online video during the month, the largest audience ever recorded," comScore Video Metrix reports. The rest of August's Top 5 video-sharing locations were Microsoft Sites, Viacom Digital, Hulu, and Fox Interactive (MySpace). Now, for a little context, check out Clive Thompson in Wired on "How YouTube Changes the Way We Think" (and converse).

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    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    YouTube now No. 4 on the Web

    Online video is just huge and growing. YouTube is now the fourth most visited site on the Web, globally, according to, citing comScore figures for this past July. YouTube had 120.3 million viewers in July, over one-third of the US population, and in that one month, they watched 8.9 million videos. "What may be more shocking is the average number of videos per viewer: 134.9. That’s nearly five YouTube videos per day." Here's The Guardian on how peace recently broke out between YouTube and the music industry. And here's on how one teacher made the case for using YouTube at school.

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    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Porn attack on YouTube

    YouTube, which just announced its users upload 20 hours of video every minute, was attacked by an anime community that uploaded hundreds of videos that looked like they were aimed at young people but had porn edited into them, the BBC reports. "The material was uploaded under names of famous teenage celebrities such as Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers. YouTube owner Google said it was aware and addressing the problem." The BBC says it spoke with one of the raiders, a man whose YouTube profile (since disabled by YouTube) said he's 21 and lives in Germany. The man said the attack was by an online group called 4Chan focused on Japanese manga and anime. He said he uploaded some of the porn videos as part of a 4Chan raid "because YouTube keeps deleting music." As for the 20 hours of video upload every minute, YouTube announced that in its blog on May 20. That's up from 15 hours of video a minute in January, which YouTube says equates to "Hollywood releasing over 86,000 new full-length movies into theaters each week." To understand the YouTube phenomenon a little better, see "Watch this video, parents" and other YouTube coverage at NetFamilyNews.

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    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    YouTube's new profanity filter

    YouTube, where billions (yes, billions) of videos are viewed each month, has a new feature for users not interested in verbal abuse. If you want to read the text comments under a video and don't care to see swear words, lewd comments, or racial slurs, you can "bleep" them out with "Filter W*rds." Just go to any video and look for "Text Comments" under it. Under "Options" just to the right, check "Filter W*rds" (you can also just hid all the comments). YouTube's parent, Google, says it knows this is a small step and not a parental-control tool or anything. The aim is just to give users more control over their experience on YouTube. So far, Filter W*rds only works for English words. Here's the page about this in YouTube's Help section. Meanwhile, Americans viewed 14.5 billion online videos just during the month of March, according to comScore (the latest figure available), up 11% over February. YouTube provided about 41% of those video views (5.9 billion). The No. 2 online video provider is Fox Interactive (with about 3% of video market share, or 437 million views), and No. 3 is Hulu at about 2.6%, or 380 million views.

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    Monday, April 20, 2009

    'Suddenly Susan' & *social* mass media

    If you aren't among the tens of millions of people who've already viewed Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent (their American Idol-like talent show), give yourself a nearly 10-minute-long smile and watch her floor the judges and audience with her gorgeous rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. As of this writing, that recording on YouTube has been viewed nearly 34 million times (another version in the top 5 search results for Boyle has been viewed 9+ million times) and is on track to pass the 100 million mark, Mashable reports. More than 3,300 stories about Boyle in news outlets worldwide turned up today in a Google News search. Though this doesn't seem like the kind of story I usually blog about, it actually is: 1) Boyle sang for her mom. This was the first time she could sing since her mother's passing two years ago, The Times reports. 2) Those among her fans who've been bullied need to know that she has been too; she suffered mild brain damage as a baby, had learning disabilities in school, "became a target for bullies ... but found sanctuary in her [large] closeknit, religious family," the Times adds (and probably in her singing talent), all of which appears to have stood her in good stead as she faced visibly skeptical judges and audience members (don't miss watching the metamorphosis on all those faces). 3) Boyle's story is a brilliant example of the new mass media - *social* mass media, when all the online views, tweets, profile comments, blog posts, retweets, and talk show plugs, probably add up to "a bigger audience than the U.S. viewership of the Super Bowl," blogs Time media columnist James Poniewozik. "It also means that more of the power, and the influence over how those moments are received, falls to the excerpters and commentators who reproduce, repost and embed the videos." See also "Suddenly Susan: Singer's Town Is Agog," Washington Post UK correspondent Mary Jordan's online discussion with Post readers about her visit with the singer in her Blackburn, Scotland, home.

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    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    How a family's handling YouTube fame

    The two-minute "David After Dentist" video has gotten more than 18 million views since 6-year-old David's dad posted it on YouTube. David is now, in effect, a child star. Chris O'Brien at the San Jose Mercury News talked to David's father about how the effects of this apparently unsought near-instant fame. The original idea was to take a video of David after he'd had a tooth pulled so Mom, who couldn't be there, could see that David "was OK, if a bit loopy. The family found it funny, and put it on [Dad's] Facebook page, where only a limited number of friends and family would be able to view it." More and more people asked to see, so David Sr. posted the video on YouTube and, within three days, it had been viewed 3 million times. Some harsh comments about child exploitation have been posted on their YouTube page, but most have been positive. "They held some family meetings to discuss the phenomenon and asked how he felt ('Like a rock star!' he told them). They established some boundaries and parameters about how they would respond." Now, as a family, they package up "David After Dentist" t-shirts for fans. I wonder if David Jr. will one day join a support group for grown-up child stars. Then again, maybe half the grownup world will be child stars by then - no support groups needed!

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    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Fight videos: The new '15 min. of fame'?

    Of fame or infamy? Who knows how many such "brawls" are staged for YouTube, but eSchoolNews reports that growing numbers of students rush to the scene with videocams and phones when they hear "Fight! Fight!", and "some of those videos have been viewed more than a million times." The upside is that school authorities who miss the fight itself can use the YouTube version to ID participants, they told eSchoolNews.

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    Monday, March 09, 2009

    Online music lessons taking off

    Some 800,000 people have watched YouTube videos of musicians teaching them how to play Colbie Caillat's 2007 hit 'Bubbly' on guitar," USATODAY reports; Sting teaches "Roxanne" himself in Apple's GarageBand software, one of many music lessons in the application's latest version; "Edison Mellor-Goldman, 17, a Los Angeles-area high school student, likes to go home from school and make video tutorials using his iMac computer's built-in webcam.... He's made 33 videos. His most popular - how to play Jason Mraz's 'I'm Yours' - has been viewed 200,000 times on YouTube"; and UK musician Justin Sandercoe gives video lessons in his own site,, which "attracts 600,000 viewers a month," according to USATODAY. Sandercoe's "lesson on how to play Guns 'N Roses' 'Sweet Child o' Mine' has picked up more than 2 million views." Through all these digital resources, music learning is getting a big boost. Joe Lamond, president of the National Association of Music Merchants, a trade group for music stores (where most guitar lessons are held), says the growth of online video lessons has paid off with more-attentive students." He credits the Internet and videogames like Guitar Hero for the fact that guitar sales are up 3%, he told USATODAY.

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Virtual, real 'Global Sim' class

    Ever thought of doing a non-virtual sim of the world, a mini Planet Earth, in a football stadium? Prof. Michael Wesch did. It's his Anthropology 204 class at Kansas State University, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Actually, his class's World Sim is in a giant rodeo arena, not a football stadium. It's designed "to push students to stop asking, 'What’s going to be on the test?' and to contemplate bigger questions: Why are some people poor and some rich? How does the world work?... to create an environment where students can expand their capacity for empathizing with and loving those who are different from them." The sim's also a big mashup of virtual and real-world spaces and tools (wiki, digital video, big arena, people), with student collaboration and decisionmaking (40% of the sim's rules get jettisoned at the end of each course to make room for the next class's rules development) - also a simulation of how young people use social media and mash it all up with the rest of their lives. Do not miss another class of Wesch's on the anthropology of YouTube (see "Watch this video, parents").

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    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    Watchdog's study on YouTube

    The Parents Television Council recently did its first study of online media, logically deciding to focus on YouTube - I guess the Web site closest to replicating the broadcast medium, though far from the only video-sharing site youth use. "While we applaud YouTube for its commitment to gating procedures and its recently announced plans to curb inappropriate content [the PTC's research was done before YouTube's announcement this month], the core implication of our analysis is that the site isn't doing enough to protect kids," the PTC press release states (the release links to the full study). One of the "major findings" it highlighted was: "Children entering such 'child-friendly' search terms as 'Miley Cyrus,' 'Jonas Brothers,' 'High School Musical' and 'Hannah Montana' were confronted with highly offensive content in the accompanying text commentary posted by other site users." "Posted by other site users" is a key qualifier.

    What's difficult, here, is that an organization focused on conventional mass media (providing regulated content produced by the broadcasters) is critiquing a social media provider (hosting media produced largely by its users). There is no denying the problems that arise when people of all ages use a huge general site and when some of the content users produce and share in the site is inappropriate for youth. The problems are not unique to any single site, not even to media-sharing sites or the Web itself (they're also found on wireless networks - see this on cellphone "sexting"). Yes, parents need to know that a site popular among kids has a whole lot of profanity and sexual innuendo in user comments associated with videos, but let's not compare apples to oranges - a user-driven medium to conventional media - and let's not get distracted from an important collective effort to educate parents and youth about the spectrum of youth risk online (including youth-generated online risk) by looking too much through the lenses of our own experience with media or thinking that adolescent behavior has changed a great deal when one of the realities we're dealing with is that age-old, sometimes shocking adolescent behavior is now a great deal more visible to parents. [Here's more on the PTC study, as well a blogger David Burt's own experience with YouTube search.]

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    Friday, December 19, 2008

    YouTube's new help & reporting tool

    YouTube has a new "Abuse & Safety" help section with simple, straightforward advice on what to do about anything from impersonation to hateful comments to violations of the site's Community Guidelines. YouTube says it wanted to make it easier for users not only to flag abusive content of any kind, but also to deal with stuff that comes up, WebProNews reports. In its coverage of this and other sites' efforts to ease reporting, the Wall Street Journal reports that YouTube says it "has 'a zero-tolerance policy for predatory behavior, stalking, threats and harassment' and reacts to most flags in less than an hour' ... [and] videos raising 'more complicated' issues may take longer." Perhaps one meaning of "more complicated" is imposter profile reports - YouTube says they need to come from the person being impersonated - it's not always easy for customer service staff to tell who's doing the reporting and whether it's sincere or a form of abuse itself. The Journal also explains how MySpace and Facebook have gotten more abuse-report-friendly.

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    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Is 'sexting' a teen trend?: Study

    Just how pervasive is 'sexting,' the nude-photo-sharing by cellphone that seems to be happening a lot? I've seen reports of the practice in more than a dozen US states, New Hampshire the latest one (see this). A new study tried to get a handle on just how much this is happening, if not why. The survey, commissioned by the nonprofit National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and, found that "about a third of young adults 20-26 and 20% of teens say they've sent or posted naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves, mostly to be 'fun or flirtatious'," USATODAY reports, adding that "a third of teen boys and 40% of young men say they've seen nude or semi-nude images sent to someone else; about a quarter of teen girls and young adult women have. And 39% of teens and 59% of those ages 20-26 say they've sent suggestive text messages." All this in spite of the fact that nearly three-quarters of these young people (73%) "said they knew sending sexually suggestive content 'can have serious negative consequences'."

    As for the why question, that 73% finding didn't surprise me - I suspect most teens know full well this is risky behavior. But since when did awareness of risk stop risky behavior among teens or in any way reduce the cachet it often has for them? Then there's the brain-development factor, explaining why risk assessment is a primary task of adolescence. Neurologists tell us the frontal cortex, the impulse-control, executive part of the brain, is in development till everybody's early-to-mid-20s. Generally speaking, their brains just aren't there yet, where fully understanding the implications of their actions is concerned (why caring adults need to be a part of the online, tech-enabled part of their lives).

    There are also the realities of technology and sexual content. In her coverage of the survey, Jacqui Cheng of ArsTechnica suggests this is the next phase of the long-standing phenomenon of inappropriate content in email - "since the age of 12, my inbox has been filled with inappropriate photos of people, whether I wanted to see them or not," she writes. That sounds a little extreme to me, but sex-related spam has been around almost as long as email and does seem to be at least part of the wallpaper of online life. In the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center wrote in 2005 that "exposure to online porn might have reached the point where it can be characterized as normative among youth Internet users, especially teenage boys. Medical practitioners, educators, other youth workers, and parents should assume that most boys of high school age that use the Internet have some degree of exposure to online pornography, as do girls."

    Back to teen-produced content, NBC's Today Show covered the sexting survey in light of a story concerning video-sharing on the Web even though nudity was not involved....

    Fast-food & other pranks: Why?

    Risque behavior recorded in video-sharing or social-networking sites is not about the Web or technology so much as it's about age-old teenage pranks and dares. The latest high-profile example involved three bikini-clad girls who - apparently influenced by a YouTube video of a similar "exploit" at Burger King - "bathed" in a KFC dishwashing tub as re-recorded by NBC's Today Show. The difference here, of course - and where new technologies do have a role - is how extremely public these antics can become.

    "Well, first let's look at the why," writes a mobile-communications blogger, pointing to another factor in all this self-exposure: our sexualized culture. "These girls have grown up on-screen, be it in home movies or MySpace profiles." Here's the most interesting part of the post: "Their lives are lived in the story - the telling and the showing. They also think that their value lies in their bodies. This is part of pop culture. Heck, it's almost an honor for actresses to pose for Maxim, Playboy and the like. But also keep in mind that girls probably don’t intend for these to go public (though they will, of course…)." Several thought-provoking points, there, including that last one about some video "actors" thinking they're just playing to their own circle of friends, not potentially everyone on the Internet and for virtually all time (there's more reflection on this at YPulse).

    There's an inherent, important contradiction there, too - just acting out for one's friends but with the potential for overnight YouTube fame lurking in the back of one's mind. Being sex objects in a sexualized culture is only one possible element. Reality TV's insta-fame has been suggested as a likely factor, too. "Kids are getting all these messages saying, 'Expose, expose, expose'," social-media and digital-youth researcher danah boyd told me when I was researching our 2006 book, MySpace Unraveled. "If you don't, your friends will expose you. We're all living in a superpublic environment, getting the message that you have more power if you expose yourself than if someone else exposes you." A master of managing her superpublic is Taylor Smith, 18, described by the New York Times as "the most remarkable country music breakthrough artist of the decade." Is her very smart, open PR strategy what some teens are emulating (or vice versa!)?

    For more about this pressure on teens to self-expose as always-on, one-person PR firms, see "Not actually 'extreme teens'."

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    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Online video: More amazing growth data

    The growth of US Web video-viewing is pretty phenomenal. We viewed 13.5 billion online videos this past October! Not "million" - "billion"! That's a 45% increase over October 2007, according to comScore's latest figures. ComScore measures by the companies that own the sites - so Google topped the list (its YouTube represented 98% of its video-viewing traffic) at 5.4 billion videos viewed (39.7% share). The rest of the top 10 video sites were more clumped together in traffic numbers, the only surprise being's rapid rise to the No. 6 position. Here are the US's 10 biggest video-viewing providers, going down from Google: Fox Interactive Media (mostly MySpace) at about 520 million (3.8%); Yahoo Sites 363 million (2.7%); Viacom Digital 305 million (2.3%); Microsoft Sites 286 million (2.1%); Hulu 235 million (1.7%); Turner Network 228 million (1.7%); Disney Online 127 million (0.9%); AOL 123 million (0.9%); and ESPN 105 million (0.8%). BTW, amateur video producers with the most viewers at YouTube are now "earning six-figure incomes from the Web site," the New York Times reports, because of the ads YouTube puts with them (it has a revenue-share program). See the Times for examples.

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    Friday, December 05, 2008

    YouTube's crackdown on suggestive content

    "It's a bad week for Internet porn,"a Wired blogger reports. Indeed. Given the news from Ning and now with YouTube "cracking down on sexually suggestive content," as VentureBeat reports. Here's some of what YouTube's crackdown looks like: "Videos that are 'sexually suggestive' (but not prohibited) will now be age-restricted to viewers 18 or older [if younger ones are truthful about their ages when they register]. In addition, these types of videos will be algorithmically demoted on pages like 'Most Viewed' and 'Top Favorites'." Also, "thumbnails" (little still images that represent videos in YouTube) will be automatically generated by the site rather than chosen by the videos' creators. You see, people would put sexy "thumbnails" at the midpoint of their videos even if they had nothing to do with sex just to game the system and get them to rise to the top, and more likely to be seen. The result was index pages of thumbnails suggesting a lot more sex-related stuff than was actually there, making the site look more disturbing to parents than it needed to be and, for advertisers, apparently not a great environment for their ads. I touch on this in "Watch this video, parents!" Here's the rest of it from YouTube itself.

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Sesame Street on video-sharing sites

    Believe it or not, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie are 39 years old this year, and now there's a Sesame Street not only in 140 countries but also on the Web. It'll soon launch its YouTube channel with 100 video clips from the TV show, Reuters reports. Like YouTube, Hulu will also Hulu, an online video venture between News Corp and General Electric Co's NBC, will host 100 segments, and in addition "30 other segments featuring celebrity actor guests such as Julia Roberts and Laurence Fishburne." Reuters adds that full episodes of the show can be downloaded and purchased from iTunes "from season 35 and onward for $1.99." The first 10 seasons of Sesame Street are available only on disk.

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Video sites: Diminishing distinctions's more about user-generated video and about TV-pro-generated video. That's the current characterization of the two, but it's clumsy and it's changing. As USATODAY points out about the fast-growing Hulu (from 107 million streams in August to 150 million in September, it cites Nielsen figures as showing) gets that it needs to be about pretty much whatever its users want it to be. So even though it doesn't have revenue-sharing deals with ABC and CBS, Hulu links to their shows anyway, gaining nothing in the process but the flexibility and multiple options users seek on the user-driven Web. It also has a channel on video-sharing giant YouTube (at 5.3 billion streams in September). Users can watch whole TV shows on Hulu. In fact YouTube "gets it" too, because it just scrapped its 10-min. cap on the length of videos people can upload to the site. "YouTube also has been making a push to premium content, with full shows from CBS and full-length independent movies," USATODAY adds.

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    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Think b4 u click to YouTube videos!

    If your kids watch a lot of YouTube videos, suggest they make sure the URL in their browser window actually says "" before they click to that page. Another tip-off to the latest malicious hack against YouTube users is that the fake YouTube page will show "an error message that claims the video they want won't play without installing new software first," according to coverage in the San Jose Mercury News. Almost any kid who's ever watched a YouTube video will know a player's not needed, but it's still good to be put on alert. "That error message includes a link the hacker has provided to a malicious program, which delivers a virus." When I asked YouTube about this, they wrote back saying, "We are aware that there is a malware threat from fake Websites posing as YouTube and inviting users to download a plug-in to watch a YouTube Video." Because the sites are on other servers, of course, YouTube has no control over them.

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    What are online video viewers like?

    They're pretty young, for one thing. Though 13-to-24-year-olds represent only 15% of Internet users, they make up 35% of "active online video viewers," according to a new Forrester Research report cited by These active viewers "are highly engaged with online video, paying attention to longer programming and the ads that run with it," Forrester says. I'm sure they're among the Web's most active video producers too. For more on this, check out the charts on eMarketer's summary page.

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Euro social networking: Full speed ahead

    The social Web has solid support from the European Commission. In fact, the EC's now looking ahead to Web 3.0, which means "seamless, anytime, anywhere business, entertainment and social networking over fast reliable and secure networks" and "the end of the divide between mobile and fixed [phone] lines," said Viviane Reding, EC Commissioner for Information Society & Media, in a September 26 speech in Luxembourg, according to VNUNET. Europe "must lead the next generation of the Internet," she said. The EC is encouraging SN industry self-regulation and has created a task force to that end, reports. Participants include MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Bebo, Amsterdam-based Hyves, Berlin-based StudiVZ, and Paris-based Skyrock; "a number of researchers and child welfare organisations. The EC reportedly plans to unveil best-practice guidelines for social-network sites on Safer Internet Day next February 10. For context, reports, social networking has grown 35% in Europe in the past year. It added that 56% of Europe's online population visited social-network sites last year, and the number of regular users is projected to increase from 41.7 million now to 107.4 million in the next four years.

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    Monday, September 15, 2008

    YouTube bans violence-inciting videos

    YouTube has changed its content guidelines and now bans videos that involve "inciting others to violence," the Washington Post reports. Last May Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) "issued a bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs staff that described how al-Qaeda created and managed its online media," then wrote a letter to YouTube's parent Google "demanding that the company 'immediately remove content produced by Islamic terrorist organizations from YouTube'." YouTube only removed some of them but "refused to take down most of the videos on the senator's list, saying they did not violate the Web site's guidelines against graphic violence or hate speech." A policy review reportedly ensued, with YouTube telling the Post that the senator had "made some good points." Meanwhile, in The Guardian, a commentator calls for better self-regulation by social Web sites, saying that waiting for users to flag material that's offensive or violates site terms isn't enough. "The right direction is for there to be intelligent, independently-set but industry-agreed, standard practices, procedures and guidelines for companies to adhere to. The alternative is individual organisations at best doing what they feel is right; at worst doing as little as they can to avoid denting their margins."

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    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Online video's huge numbers

    This gives us a feel for how Web video-viewing happens to be coming along: Americans viewed more than 11.4 billion online videos for a total duration of 558 million hours this past July, comScore reports. Another way of looking at it: More than 142 million US Internet users each watched an average of 80 videos per viewer. A few more interesting findings:

  • 75% of all US Net users viewed online video.
  • The average viewer watched 235 minutes of video.
  • 91 million viewers watched 5 billion videos on (54.8 videos per viewer).
  • 51.4 million viewers watched 400 million videos on (7.8 videos per viewer).
  • The duration of the average online video was 2.9 minutes.

    As for kid stuff in this category, a snapshot from Disney: Its site's July video traffic - 186.7 million video streams - "broke its all-time online video record," the company announced, a 39% increase over June. Hmm, did it have something to do with school being out? Disney says it had a lot to do with High School Musical 3, the Jonas Brothers, and Miley Cyrus. [See also "Watch this video, parents."]

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  • Friday, August 01, 2008

    Watch this video, parents

    If you want to understand...

  • who digital natives are and what they're doing online
  • how community is experiencing a rebirth online
  • how identity-exploration can be a collective experience and how that can be therapeutic
  • and maybe even why YouTube is the No. 1 site among 2-to-11-year-olds for video viewing (see this)

    ...pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea or something and watch "An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube," presented by Kansas State University anthropology Prof. Michael Wesch's last month at the US Library of Congress. Just click on the title, then hit the little "Play" button in the middle of the picture of the two tiny brothers, and I suspect you'll find - as I did - that you'll actually enjoy becoming more digitally enlightened in this way. I guarantee that, if you have kids and they're online, they'll appreciate your taking the time.

    If you want to know a little more before you invest the 55.5 minutes, here are some highlights:

  • Why YouTube? It's a force and a fixture in many people's lives worldwide. If the 3 major TV networks broadcasted 24 hours a day, every day for the 60 years they've been broadcasting, they would've produced 1.5 million hours of programming. YouTube has published more than that in the last six months, Dr. Wesch said. People post 9,000 hours of video a day (another way to say it: 200,000 three-minute videos a day) - most of them meant for fewer than 100 viewers.

  • Linking what? The Web is increasingly about "linking people, not information."

  • Not trivial. The experimentation with video, identity, and collaboration going on in YouTube is courageous ("your bedroom as the most public place on the planet") - with many unknowns, including audience and what happens to one's very personal work and exploration. It's also global. Note the hero of "Free Hugs" worldwide at 35:35 minutes into Wesch's talk.

  • Not isolating. "New forms of community" have developed in this global video-sharing, and with them "new forms of self-understanding," Wesch said.

  • Ok to stare. Yes, viewing some of self-exploration videos seems a little voyeuristic, and there are some cruel comments and reactions, but this also happens: people experiencing "a profound, deep connection" free of social anxiety and other constraints of "connecting" in "real life" - because they can stare at the person in the video, study his face while he's talking on camera, while he's taking that leap of faith in humanity by putting himself out there.

  • Sexy images. Very often the sexy titles and screen shots (called "flash frames") that present videos are not what parents and other newcomers think (they're not presenting x-rated videos). They're about serious or funny completely innocuous videos. Representing them in a "sexy" way is a way of gaming the system. Their creators are just trying to get their videos noticed and watched so they'll rise to the top of the list (YouTube's home page) and so get noticed even more so they'll become famous or they'll raise awareness for their cause.

  • "Era of prohibitions." Don't miss Stanford Prof. Laurence Lessig's message (at about 46:15 min. in) about the impact on youth of knowing that remixing media, a way of life for them, is technically illegal in this "era of prohibitions": "That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting," Lessig said. We can't stop our kids from playing with digital media, he said, we can only send them underground, where we can't learn about what they're doing. Parent and Prof. Liz Lawley at the Rochester Institute of Technology echoes this below (in "Social networkers want more privacy options").

    This is the kind of presentation that recharges, nourishes, keeps you going and going and going as you try - in the area of youth online safety - to maintain a balance of three needs: to alert parents to the risks that do exist, to mitigate fears and encourage (when "be very afraid" is so often the message to parents), and to communicate all the good, important growth and learning that's going on as young people use media that so many adults don't really understand.

    Related links

  • "An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube," the talk he gave at the Library of Congress, June 2008
  •, Professor Wesch's site (blog, bio, video portfolio, and intro to his students) - "Reasons Why We Tube" may answer more questions you have, as it explores and summarizes the 370 video responses Wesch's class got to "Why do you tube?"
  • The Wired Campus column about Wesch in the Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Author, tech-publishing entrepreneur, and pundit John Battelle's interview with Michael Wesch
  • Two resources Dr. Wesch recommended at the end of his Library of Congress talk: 1) AnthroVlog, the digital video research blog of Dr. Patricia Lange at the University of Southern California, and her paper, "Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube" and 2) the work of MIT graduate student Kevin Driscoll, particularly "Thanx 4 Da Add: How Soulja Boy Hacked Mainstream Music" and got a major-label contract from a base in
  • Two stories show YouTubers' rants can go only so far. 1) Trying to be funny, maybe, a frequent YouTube ranter known as "Trashman" was arrested by federal agents this week for claiming to have told "Gerber employees to lace baby food with cyanide," CNET reports. 2) In "Wife's rant on YouTube falls foul of judge," The Guardian reports that "a British actor who took her battle against her millionaire husband to the internet, posting videos that lambasted him on YouTube and gained an audience of millions," was ordered to leave her New York home by a judge who ruled her behaviour was 'spousal abuse'."

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  • Thursday, June 12, 2008

    For youngest Web users, YouTube beats Disney

    We're talking about the Disney Channel Web site, here, not the Disney Channel on TV, but this is still interesting: Among 2-to-11-year-olds, YouTube was No. 1 for online video viewing and a distant second, reports CNET, citing Nielsen figures. For YouTube, the number of 2-to-11-year-old visitors in April was 4.1 million; for, it was 1.3 million. NickJr was also on the list, but note that MySpace - whose minimum age is 14 - was too. So was Google Video. "On average, the kids watched 51 video streams from home during April, spending almost two hours on video clips. That usage outstrips the average of nearly 75 million adults [44 video streams and 1 hr, 40 min] who regularly view video clips at sites like and," CNET reports. I agree with reporter Stefanie Olsen where she writes: "Slightly disturbing, the site with the highest concentration of 12- to 17-year-olds, or 44% of this age group, was, a hub for live Webcams of people in their bedrooms." For more on Stickam, see "Social networking unleashed," the kind without monitoring, customer-care staffs, and safety czars and "Parents, be aware of Stickam."

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    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Participatory justice

    NPR aired a story about a shop owner whose security cam recorded a thief scooping up and making off with a couple of watches. "After filing a police report, [the retailer] handed out fliers with the suspects' pictures and posted the surveillance tape on YouTube." Whether the motive is public humiliation or catching the thief, the Internet is increasingly being used to "right" wrongs. To law enforcement, it's a little scary because when people or organizations like Perverted Justice (the group used by NBC Dateline for its "To Catch a Predator" series) take matters into their own hands online or offline, they can make it even harder to bring the perpetrator to justice. People not trained in gathering the kind of evidence that holds up in court can botch the legal process and make things much easier for the people breaking the law. Fortunately, the retailer NPR led its story with filed a police report and offered a reward with the YouTube video only for tips that he could hand over to the police. "Police caught the thief late last month after the watches were spotted in a pawn shop down the street," NPR reports.

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    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Analog adults, digital kids clash

    One night recently there was a light snowfall in the Washington, D.C., area and some high school students apparently felt they should have a snow day. When it didn't happen, one high school senior reportedly took it upon himself to get on the phone and call his school system's chief operating officer to find out why school wasn't shut down for the day. The COO's wife picked up the phone. She was "understandably miffed about the invasion into her private sphere, yet she returns fire with a shockingly disproportionate blast of rage," the Washington Post reports. But of course in these days of the user-driven Web that wasn't the end of it. According to the original Post story on the subject, the COO's wife called the student back and left a message that berated him "for using the home number and told him to 'Get over it, kid, and go to school!' [The student then] posted an audio link to his Facebook page, and a friend uploaded the message on YouTube. Within days, it was played tens of thousands of times on the Web and aired on national news." Both action and reaction are understandable and neither can fathom each other's perspective - one is hyper-public all the time and never not accessible via cellphone, social Web site, IM, etc., and knows no lines that might be crossed; the other actually has a "home phone" probably wired to a wall and another kind of line that was very definitely crossed by a young person she'd never met. The really tough part is, "she could not have imagined that her righteous tirade would be enshrined on the Web and on Page One of The Washington Post." It's getting harder to react badly to a situation in private, but having said all the above and published the story, the Post does say that "even today, most teens wouldn't dare call a school administrator at home." Columnist Marc Fisher adds that this kid was out to push buttons. What's different now is that he really did get a lot of attention.

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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    How YouTube stardom works

    Of course "stardom" on the social Web is different from mass-media stardom. Take bands in MySpace, for example - fame is more dispersed but intimate. Artists are closer to their fans, who do the real marketing (in a "viral," word-of-mouth way that has a lot more influence than the polished but less personal marketing of a record label). Income is different too - coming in more in piecemeal fashion over time - but a living can be made, sometimes after big media companies or agents notice an artist's amazing fan base. So, it appears, will it go for two funny guys in Madison, Wisc. Their eight-part series "Chad Vader: Day-Shift Manager" is one of YouTube's "biggest hits, having been viewed more than 19 million times since its debut in July 2006" and this year they, Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, were "among the first performers recruited by YouTube’s new professional partnership program, paying content providers a portion of the site’s ad revenue," the New York Times reports. But a key takeaway - if your child has aspirations of YouTube stardom - is "don't try it for the money," which seems to describe Matt and Aaron, according to Times writer David Callender. Check out the article to see why.

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    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Copyright protction on social Web: Latest

    If your child loves creating his or her own music, ski, or skateboard videos or mixing others' footage and music into new mashups, that is really cool. But now would be a good time to talk with him or her about how Web sites are getting more strict about protecting copyrights. A handful of very large media and social-Web companies have created a coalition designed to protect copyrights on sites such as MySpace, the Associated Press reports. YouTube would logically be one of them but didn't join the coalition, possibly because of Viacom's lawsuit against it; it did, however just announce its own copyright protection plan (more on that in a moment). The coalition announced some copyright-protection guidelines for the industry to follow, including 1) having in place by the end of the year "filtering software that blocks all content media companies flag as being unauthorized," 2) keeping the filters up to date, and 3) "cooperation between media and Web companies to allow 'wholly original' user-generated videos to be posted and to accommodate 'fair use' of copyrighted material as allowed under law. Coalition members include Disney, Viacom, CBS, NBC, and News Corp. on the media side and Microsoft, MySpace (whose parent is News Corp.), Veoh Networks and Dailymotion on the Web side. YouTube's new copyright-protection system employs "software to find unique characteristics in the clips so it can detect copies posted by YouTube users without permission," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Media companies can ask Google to automatically delete every unauthorized copy - or to slap ads on the clips and promote them." Both the AP and the L.A. Times said neither the new coalition nor YouTube have as yet defined "fair use," though both said fair use of copyrighted material would be allowed. Stay tuned.

    Meanwhile, interest in watching TV shows on the Web is growing. "This week, two research organizations, TNS and the Conference Board, issued a report indicating that the number of people who watch TV shows online has doubled in the last year," the New York Times reports.

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    YouTube scene in RL

    This Washington Post article offers insights into what you might call the YouTube scene, the one populated by YouTube celebrities and their fans. It tells about a recent gathering of YouTubers in "real life." An example of the former: SXePhil. That's " the alias of 21-year-old University of South Florida student and Web heartthrob Philip DeFranco, whose videos have been viewed millions of times." Then there are the ones who have corporate sponsors that pay for product placements in the YouTubers' videos. As for online entertainment in general, the Wall Street Journal article profiled singer and guitarist Marie Digby, who, the Journal says, illustrates how "the Internet is transforming the world of entertainment."


    Monday, September 03, 2007

    Online hangouts: Teens exploring ID

    Most adults know that a lot happens when teens are "hanging out," and all that personal and social development's happening in online hangouts now too. Two researchers supported by the MacArthur Foundation offer insights into what's happening in two such "places" - YouTube and Faraway Lands. In "Self Production and Social Feedback Through Online Video-Sharing on YouTube," psychologist Sonja Baumer describes what went into and came out of a video by 19-year-old "Fatalshade" (her screenname), who grew up on a family farm. Fatalshade "indicates that the video has enabled her to understand the complexity of growing up and confusion around the feelings and desires that teenagers often encounter," Baumer writes. And in "You Have Another World to Create: Teens and Online Hangouts," sociologist C.J. Pascoe describes how one teen, Clarissa, explores identity and role-plays with "friends from all over the world" in her favorite online hangout, Faraway Lands. For more insights and stories - including "Coming of Age in Networked Public Culture," by Heather Horst - see the Digital Youth Research site at University of California, Berkeley.

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    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    Finnish teen fined for YouTube video

    A 15-year-old student in Finland has been fined for posting a YouTube video "showing a karaoke performance of his teacher and for claiming she was a lunatic," the Associated Press reports. The video depicts his teacher singing karaoke at a party. The student said that he did it as a prank "and had not intended to insult the teacher." The video said the teacher was "a lunatic singing at the karaoke of the mental hospital." As a good a warning as any that there can be consequences from posting defaming photos and video, prank or not. It's always good to ask permission before uploading images of others. In Finland, as in most other countries, there can be legal consequences.

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    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Video threats: Teen pleads guilty

    This case might come in handy for parents looking for a way to get across that kids really can’t say anything they want to on the social and media-sharing Web. A 16-year-old in New York who was accused of threatening his math teacher in an online video “pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated harassment,” the Staten Island Advance reports. He was arrested in May for “asking in one of his video blogs that someone ‘put a bullet’ in the neck of his math teacher, who gave him a failing grade.” The Staten Island district attorney’s office said the boy would be sentenced in August to 15 days of community service and three years' probation.

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    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    YouTube winners' stories

    Want to get a feel for the best of YouTube (to see what your kids see in this runaway Web phenomenon)? Meet the winners in the Best Comedy, Most Adorable, Most Inspirational, and Best Series categories of the first-annual YouTube Awards. Carol Montsinger at USATODAY got a bit of the backstory from the winners themselves. You might call this the best of the user-driven Web. Here's the Associated Press on the program. Meanwhile, the New York Times recently reported on a study that found YouTube is much more grassroots, more about videos like the above than about copyrighted video clips of movies and TV shows.

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