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Hectors World

August 5, 2010

A recent article from the Observer talked about the availability of various services that “manage the internet footprint that people and businesses leave online”. The article goes on to say these “Reputation Managers” can also send an alert whenever a reference is posted about your child online. For the two reasons I talked about in my last blog, children and the internet are of particular interest to me. As part of my research in the area of social entrepreneurship I came across a social venture called Hectors World www.hectorsworld.com. The social mission of this venture is to educate all children about digital citizenship. Their particular focus is “digital tots” – children aged 2 to 9 years of age. To do this they have developed a free website called Silicon Deep. Here Hector (a dolphin) and his friends (other animated sea creatures) engage with each other to educate children about personal information online, cyber bullying, computer security, digital and media literacy etc.

The Episode Theatre is well worth a visit (even if you are over 9 years of age!) to see both the animated episodes and music videos that have been created. The storyline and animations educate without patronizing or talking down to children – children are active learners engaging with the characters.

Recently a colleague and I have been exploring Hector’s World using a complexity lens. In particular we have examined the shift that has occurred as the emphasis within the venture has moved from online safety to digital citizenship – i.e. the emergence of a new attractor. The previous attractor of internet safety, while critically important and the reason that Hector’s World started, is simply not enough in the digital environment children are now engaged in. Again from a complexity lends, Silicon Deep is a novel, emerging network structure that metaphorically embodies Digital Citizenship. Of course, many adults aren’t too clear about Digital Citizenship either .. maybe a Silicon Deep for adults might reduce the need for “reputation managers”??

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