Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

What’s interesting in the news today…

January 8, 2009 4 comments

Today’s Webospherical News
Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mattle’s new creative toys for kids

Major League Gaming’s success

The need for better metrics in Social Networking, etc

How would Walt Disney market in 2008?

Guitar Hero gets an uber girly guitar (ugly from my girly point of view – very ‘bratz’ ish)

“Interesting” Insights on girl behavior (article titled: Physically Active? Of course not, if you’re a girl)

Webkinz Jr coming this spring (p.s. if they want to do this the right way, they’ll make an amazing phone application for parents of preschool kids – simply because phones are now used as grocery store entertainment, etc)

Really cool phone gadget

Here’s my thoughts:

1. Thank you, ypulse, for always finding interesting articles like that Girl Behavior article noted above!

2. Webkinz Jr…. The idea of yet another preschool site?  Meh.   I’m not necessarily sure they work yet?  Although, with webkinz-notoriety, it might just do well…?  With the exception of Panwapa & a really cool train-property (not Thomas) site I’ve seen w/ cool things in the works, preschool sites are kinda not worth the buzz – most remind me of Neopets Jr, which is basically just coloring pages and limited gaming.

3. HOWEVER, second thought ramble…… If Webkinz Jr. came out as a PHONE APPLICATION world too? Booya. Parents are just handing over their phones to the wee toddlers in the shopping carts to watch movies or play games, etc. Disney Pixie Hallow had a GORGEOUS game on the iphone that is relatively easy to play (just title the handset to fly high or low). I am TOTALLY going to watch preschool apps for phones. There should be better apps for teen phones from the virtual world sector – I’m not seeing too many that I’m overly impressed with. As for tween phone apps? Right now… I wouldn’t waste the money. Sure, tweens are getting phones by the load – but I’m not necessarily certain that tweens & phones are the healthy sector of the market (in regards to safety, parent approval, limitations, etc).

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Dizzywood’s Community Elections

October 10, 2008 1 comment
Dizzywood Engages Youth to Vote in Virtual Elections

Players have the opportunity to register, campaign, poll and vote, while learning what it means to be a citizen of the world.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — October 10, 2008 — Whether it’s Kat De Claw’s campaign promise “to rebuild the road from Wildwood Forest to Canal City” or Cecil Sideshuffle’s mission “to put an end to the evil Emperor Withering’s corruption,” starting today Dizzywood players will have the opportunity to register, campaign, poll and vote in a special elections event at, a virtual world and online game for children ages 8-12. This week-long activity will feature fun and engaging activities, such as story quests to learn about the Dizzywood candidates and posters and t-shirts available at campaign headquarters. At the same time, it will teach youth about the elections process and the importance of participating in real-world civic activities.

Elections Logistics:
Each of the three Dizzywood candidates offers a different platform and viewpoint. It is then up to each Dizzywood player to gather the information about the candidate’s views and recognize the link between the political issues and how it will affect their everyday life in Dizzywood.

Players will learn the logistics of elections by registering to vote, campaigning for their favorite candidate and watching the polls. Social interaction and collaborative activities will allow players to work together on behalf of their candidates and understand that other players may interpret issues differently. Players will meet the candidates and register to vote starting October 10th and the results will be announced after players vote the weekend of October 17th.

Dizzywood has teamed with Shaping Youth media literacy analysts ( to help develop the elections so that players better understand the layers of critical thinking necessary to address the voting process. “Kids will no doubt apply these critical-thinking skills long before real-world elections when they can legally vote at 18,” said Amy Jussel, founder of Shaping Youth. “School councils, tryouts, youth groups, team captains and such are all practice grounds for learning about coping skills, fairness, good sportsmanship and not always getting your own way. Using a virtual world such as Dizzywood is a great example of how media can create positive change, allowing kids to practice good digital citizenship — and then respectfully applying these life skills to their own microcosms.”

“The Dizzywood election event is a great introduction to kids about what it means to be an active participant in their world, both as digital citizens and real-world decision makers,” said Ken Marden, co-founder of Dizzywood. “It is an opportunity to allow kids to see the potential for change that can occur by being active in one’s community and why it’s important to participate in the voting process in different capacities in their lives. Plus, it will just be plain fun!”

Dizzywood is free to use. Subscriptions will be available to access premium content in the future.

About Dizzywood
Dizzywood’s mission is to inspire young people to use their imagination and have fun, while learning real-life values and skills. Dizzywood’s creative, story-driven world offers children a safe virtual environment where they can explore worlds unlike any other, engage in challenging activities and cooperate with others, while developing important cognitive skills. Because Dizzywood’s games and activities have endless variation, each experience is new and unique — keeping kids captivated and engaged. Kids are appropriately challenged with games and activities that earn players unique super powers and other creative rewards. For more information, visit
Dizzywood PR Release
So, I totally saw this event in my RSS feeds this morning (Dizzywood has a blog about “happenings”) and I thought – ROCK ON.  That’s a freakin’ great idea!  And low & behold, I get an email about it later on from those darlings over at Dizzywood.  AWESOME.
Events in virtual worlds twist and turn and can go any direction – from themed environments, to specific-room parties, to parades of UGC & users, to ELECTIONS!  What a great way to get kids psyched on the buzz of election time.

UNCONFERENCE! Kids Online: Balancing Safety and Fun

September 16, 2008 Leave a comment

About Kids Online
Our goal is to leave the day with greater clarity around some core best practices and have next steps as an industry to help kids being safer online.

Objective and Process
This is a day to dive in and work collaboratively on these kinds issues around kids online:

  • Who and what are we trying to protect digital kids from?
  • Are there standards and norms in practice that we can leverage to formalize best practices for industry?
  • Kids fake their ages to gain access to online content, do we as an industry care? If so, then…?
  • How do we create best practices that are flexible based on age range, content and willingness for parental involvement by industry or the child?
  • How can we create cyber-spaces that balance interesting and fun with safety?
  • What is the role of government in either defining or supporting best practices?
  • Any other ideas, issues, concepts that you think are important in this area.

We will take notes throughout the day from all sessions. This book of proceedings will be with all attendees talking about what we learned, synthesizing and next actions.

About the Unconference Format

The format we use means the agenda is created the day it happens. It is about getting things done and figuring out the tough problems. There is no committee deciding who does or does not get to ‘present’. Instead, Open Space is about breaking up into groups, working through issues, figuring out best practices and building consensus.


  • The community we hope to gather includes:
  • Online Community/Virtual World Managers
  • Policy officers and Security Officers at large companies
  • Consultants in the kids online space
  • Identity technologists
  • State Attorney Generals
  • Legislative Staffers
  • Parents and Kids
  • Academics in the field
  • Bloggers

Speaking Opportunities

Anyone is welcome to create a session on a topic they find relevant to data sharing. The agenda for these sessions will be created on the first day of each event.

About the Event Organizers

Denise Tayloe and Joi Podgornyare the experts in Kids Online calling this event and Kaliya Hamlin an expert in digital identity and unconference facilitator have partnered to put this event together.

Kaliya Hamlin is an experienced unconference facilitator and organizer who has facilitated numerous unconferences, including the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) and She’s Geeky . Since 2005, the (un)conference format has been used at the Internet Identity Workshop, a bi-annual event focusing on emerging open standards in user-centric identity. Since then, Kaliya Hamlin has received con-siderable praise for helping IIW achieve real results.

Denise Tayloe co–founded Privo to help helps consumers manage their digital identities and to create a software solution that would help companies effectively interact with children while in compliance with the federal law. Denise has be-come a recognized leader and authority in permission and identity management, has been an invited speaker on the subject at conferences related to marketing as well as at Trans Atlantic dialogues regarding children’s privacy issues across the globe and has been published in the official newsletter of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Ms. Tayloe has also conducted private workshops to help companies understand the intricacies of COPPA and how to maintain customer relationships within legal boundaries. Ms. Tayloe has more than 14 years experience in business development, sales, finance and the development of companies innovating and providing business and technology related services.

Joi Podgorny leads the integration of interactive/online strategies into Ludorum’s television, publishing and toy properties. Before Ludorum, she has spent the past decade helping build, manage, and scale online communities for kids while developing and implementing the systems and infrastructure needed to make these communities viable. Joi has worked as a consultant championing and implementing COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliance and monitored networks, as well as developing and implementing strategies in the realms of digital production, integrated marketing, and youth interactive research.


Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 08:30 AM – 5 PM (PST)

(Hopefully have some dinner groups afterwards to continue the conversations, as well.)


Computer History Museum
1401 N Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043


Early Bird by Sep 30, 2008 $95.00
Regular by Oct 31, 2008 $125.00
Kids (10-25) by Nov 12, 2008 $50.00

Sponsorships are available. Please contact any of the event coordinators if you are interested.

New (un)conference – Kids Online: Balancing Safety and Fun « Joi Podgorny

OOOO! HEADS UP ALL.  This is very, very nicely priced, btw.  AWESOME.  I’m in.

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VW Expo post-show fun

August 6, 2008 5 comments

So, Wednesday, Sept 3th, after the conference, I (and a lively variety of cohorts in the kids VW biz) will be merrily making the way to a pub (TBD, stay tuned) near the conference center.

If you’re interested in joining in on the chill, relaxed meet & pint – do let me know (via the comments). It would be really great to see a lot of fellow-VW-ers join in for a drinky-poo and fun chat. I’ll let you know more as the conference gets closer (via the email you place in the comments – so do comment if you are interested).

Rambling, storytelling, and joking are all encouraged. We work in an AWESOME medium, and it’s is only enhanced by the fact that everyone in this medium = rock star. So let’s hang, peeps! 😉

Noteworthy: Kaimira Trilogy

July 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Kaimira: The Sky Village book trailer

My friend Chris Rettstatt rocks.  He rocks.  This series is his baby and I have been privileged enough to get eye fulls of it for a couple years while in development. 

If you’re looking for an epic fantasy book for your tween/teen?  Check out this series.  Seriously.

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Who owns you online???

We are more connected than ever, but that also means we more transparent than ever. Company’s have been worried about their brand integrity forever, so why would it be strange to manage your own?

Taking care of your identity online is an unfortunate chore that we all should have as part of our online habits. It doesn’t take much to discredit your name online, so make sure you are in control of how you are represented, just in case someone wants to help you form that identity in a negative way. This has now happened to multiple friends of mine, so I thought I would post my tips to them for everyone.

Scary cautionary tales – Here are just 3 stories of non-webby people who, because they had such a limited presence online, one small thing made a huge impression:

Reclaiming your personal brand « Joi Podgorny

One of my heroes (shut up joi, you know you are), put together a GREAT post about “reclaiming your personal brand” – and she’s so right.

I recommend that anyone interested in keeping control of their own identity click that link and check it out. Seriously.

p.s. A few days ago an interesting individual called me “silly and naive” for believing that employers are now checking out people’s web existence in tools like youtube and myspace (check the link if you’d like to follow the dialog).  Awesome, right?  Well… here are more instances of people getting outed w/ questionable behavior from their social existence online (cheers to Ypulse for this grab).

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YA Chris Rettstatt and YA Shannon Hale

April 1, 2008 Leave a comment

The other book I was pulling for in deliberations for this year’s Cybils award was Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale. For me, this book was all about the details: the grit of daily life in the tower, the details of Dashti’s previous life on the steppes, the relentless believability that ran from the first page to the last. It was a fantastic story, and I’m so glad it was one of the two winners in the fantasy / science fiction category.

Shannon has two young children, and so I promised to keep the interview short.

Chris) How did you go about researching Mongolian culture for Book of a Thousand Days?

Shannon: My parents lived in Mongolia for a year and a half, so I had some great first hand knowledge, and I sent questions for their Mongolian friends. i also read books, especially the fantastic Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

Chris) In Book of a Thousand Days, how satisfying was it to heap so much hardship on a fairytale princess?

YAuthor to YAuthor: Interview with Shannon Hale « Chris Rettstatt

Click that link to continue with the interview. Chris Rettstatt is not only a good friend, and a great blogger (with author interviews & a YA perspective), but he also is a KICK BUTT writer. He has a book series coming out soon called Kaimira, and I love it. Very fantasy, very epic, very awesome.

As for his interviewee, Shannon Hale, I hate to say it (for self preservation), but I’m a fan girl of Shannon Hale. Fan. Girl. Not only do I love her Goose Girl, Emma Burning, River Running, and Princess Academy, but I’m obsessed with her book for the older ladies– Austenland, which is primarily about a girl who loves Pride & Prejudice just a wee too much (ahem… there’s nothing wrong with being a Jane Austen fantatic! lol).

So, if you’re a huge YA (young adult) fantasy reader like me… Chris’s blog (book) and Shannon Hale are worth a check out. Radness.

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Girls & Secrets

February 22, 2008 6 comments

New York, NY February 22, 2008- On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, launched a new section: “I’VE GOT A SECRET.” It’s where GIRLS AGES 10-15 ANONYMOUSLY POST THEIR SECRETS. In less than 48 hours over 425 SECRETS were posted.

Invitation to girls: “Got secrets you want to share but are afraid to even tell your best friend for fear of what she’ll think? Want to read secrets from other girls so you can see that you aren’t the only one with secrets? This is the place to anonymously tell YOUR secrets.”

Girl secrets started pouring in…confessions, fears, desires, needs, disloyalties, heartbreaks and embarrassing moments. Some bring tears to our eyes, some make us smile… and all let us know what’s really going on in the hearts and heads of tween and teen girls.

Like these SECRETS:

“i murdered my cat on accident…because i accidently slammed my cats head into my car door…. and i had to throw my dead cat in this ditch behind my neighbors house.. and i had to lie to my mom and told her he ran away”

“i secretly want my parents to get a divorce…..”

“I know it’s SUPER HORRIBLE, but I’m attracted when a boy talks about his “private parts” I feel all sick inside. I’m discusted at myself. “

“I am anorexic. I hate eating in public, and I am OBSESSED with the Nutrition Facts or whatever on the back of all the boxes of food. I think I’m fat, because I am almost 12, 5 feet 4 inches tall, and I weigh a whopping 96 pounds!!!!! “

The link to view ALL SECRETS:


Awesome. Really! I love Post Secret, so this is a great idea. Why? Because little girls/tween girls feel SO ALONE at times. They feel like no one could feel as they do– or go through what they have gone through– or hide what they need to hide… And this is a great anonymous way for girls to see their peers’ fears and feel a little less alone.


I scanned through the site, and felt my own personal time warp. Some of the things the girls said were similar to issues I worried about as a girl.


Some of them made me smile triumphantly. Why? Because there are a few comments in there you can just FEEL were made up– and you know what? Good. Obviously that child feels they need to create their own anonymous myth, just to feel a little cheeky, or powerful, or heroic, or their own legend. Every kid (especially girls) does it– makes some tiny lie to feel invisible or important. It’s a moment of thrill, mischievousness, and independence.


I dig it. Brava, AllyKatzz!

Hello Kitty World launches closed Beta

February 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Sanrio Digital announced today the launch of a closed beta for a virtual world based on its incredibly popular Hello Kitty brand. Hello Kitty Online will feature locations based on the Flower Kingdom, London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow and more. Integrated with the community portal of Sanrio Town, the world will have ties to blogs, email, video sharing, and Sanrio merchandise sales as well as NPCs based on the characters of the Hello Kitty world. While the world seems to have a large social component, it’s being billed as an MMORPG with customizable avatars, guilds, skill systems, and a player economy. There’s combat and puzzle solving, but also crafting, houses to customize, and puzzles. Targeted at females in their pre-teens to twenties, the downloadable world is free to play, but will monetize off of the Item Mall, which “allows players to use real money to purchase special items and upgrades for characters.”

Virtual Worlds News: Sanrio Launches Hello Kitty World

I’ve been monitoring this for a while now– having linked to it in my Beta Virtual World collection… I’m on my way right now. More later.


So the world isn’t LIVE yet (still closed beta). But from the intro pages, it is BEAUTIFUL. Like yummy junk food of bright deliciousness. It’s going to correspond in many ways to the pre-existing Sanrio Town. So, after getting bored of their “selling materials” on the beta-info page, I jumped over to Sanrio to get all signed up for when the site goes live.

And I encountered this Meh registration gem:

a) They take TOOOOONS of personal information (from age, FULL NAME, email, OCCUPATION, EDUCATION, to believe it or not INCOME).

b) They take all that information BEFORE clarifying whether or not they CAN/SHOULD take that information from children. After a user enters everything, the system does indeed BLOCK U13 members (they cannot join at this time).

c) I certainly hope they’re promptly deleting the info from their databanks for minors. It seems like they are– because I was able to then refresh the registration page, enter all of the same information but CHANGE my age to an appropriate age, and easily complete registration… w/o a bead of “will it let me know?” sweat.

I’m a uber-curious and trying not to be overly judgemental about their choice of blogs, video, and email with this demo. iCarly conquered it, as did (somewhat) It’s a TOUGH task to take– moderating & screening & getting parental sign off on UGC for U13 kids. It’s hard on scalability & cost & staffing & policy & protection & liability & responsibility, etc.

Hmmm. I’m going to ignore Sanrio Town for the moment, and go back to Hello Kitty World because it doesn’t creep me out nearly as much. Hopefully they’ll give some sort of info on how they intend to keep kids safe, and have a bridge of solidarity protecting Hello Kitty world from Sanrio Town’s less than tween-esque behaviors, and vice versa. More later.

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Chuggington has left the station!!

February 8, 2008 2 comments

Welcome to the production blog for Chuggington, an exciting new pre-school brand bursting onto the scene world-wide in 2009. 

On this site you will be able to track the development of Chuggington over the next year. You’ll get behind-the-scenes glimpses of the amazing CGI Animation in progress, peeks at the development of an extraordinary immersive online world where fans will be able to jump into the world of Chuggington and explore even further, and get first looks at fantastic new Chuggington products as they come available.

Sign up to receive email updates about Chuggington or subscribe to the RSS feed on your favorite reader, so you don’t miss any news about this great new brand. As a special treat, we are letting you see a small trailer we put together of the show. Let us know what you think in the comments or by sending an email to us in our Contact Us section.

Thanks, enjoy and we’ll talk to you soon!


The trains have the CUTEST VOICES since Wonder Pets

Word on the street is that:
Chuggington is an exciting new pre-school brand with 52 x 10 min glorious CGI animated episodes, bursting onto the scene world-wide in 2009. 

Joi Podgorny (safety guru, blogger, youth media star, interactive genius, and a grrreat friend) is rockin’ the interactive Chuggington thing, and from what she’s alluded to (darn those like-minded stealthers), it’s gonna be wicked cool in the comings years. 


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