My 9 year old is quoted by Carolyn Y. Johnson in this morning’s Boston Globe article, “Space for everyone.” Carolyn explores how digital social networking (DSN) sites are attractive to a growing demographic of adults as well as young people, and how increasing numbers of online DSN destinations for kids are SAFE in contrast to better known sites like MySpace:

Alexander Fryer is interested in more basic forms of play online. The 9-year-old from Edmond, Okla., began using social-networking websites two years ago, before he could even type, frequenting to build his own virtual projects. “It’s been exciting because you can see how many people have actually seen what I’ve done,” he said.

Today, the third grader uses, where every child has his or her own penguin and igloo, and has tried out His father, Wesley, said both sites offer a safe social-networking experience in contrast to the MySpace page, which has been criticized for allowing young people to post revealing personal details.

Kudos to Carolyn for writing a balanced article about DSN that includes information about the opportunities as well as dangers/challenges of online spaces. She also includes links to a bunch of DSN sites I hadn’t heard of before or explored yet, including (launched by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen) and, a personal file sharing network tool.

The story behind this story is quite interesting, and probably worth a podcast in itself. Carolyn wanted to interview Alexander and had emailed me some questions Monday night. I didn’t get to ask the questions to Alexander before bed that evening, so I needed to catch him after school. Problem was the school where I presented yesterday afternoon had both Yahoo mail and Google mail blocked, so I couldn’t email her. My cell phone worked, so I asked her to download and register Skype. Not only was I able to send her a file, I was also able to skype out to my son on my wife’s cell phone, who was exploring the Oklahoma City zoo after school, and then drop Carolyn into our conversation in a 3 way skype call: 1 person in rural Oklahoma, 1 at the Oklahoma Zoo in Oklahoma City, and 1 in Boston, Massachusetts. Carolyn didn’t have a microphone connected to her computer during the interview to ask Alexander questions directly, so she used IM to send me additional questions to ask him.

And today his quotation is in the Boston Globe. That was certainly a twenty-first century communication moment!

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4 Responses to Alexander in the Boston Globe

  1. Jane P Parker says:

    I have tried for the last 20 min or so to figure out how to email mr. Freyer. I can’t find an obvious contact point other than commenting. I am enjoying the podcasts and blog. Very helpful, useful and mentally stimulating content. Is there any way to improve the audio quality of the podcasts. I find this true with many many many podcasts from university classes podcasted to itunes offering. It is a barrier to enjoyment and to access to have such weak audio quality. What are the options to message the message. Can garage band be used to improve the levels and balance. I would love to see improvement in these areas. I would find listening so much more pleasant.

    tks for all the good stuff.

  2. Mrs. Durff says:

    CONGRATULATIONS ALEXANDER! You are famous, watch out Dad, here he comes (& sisters, too). These digital natives will push us immigrants out of the way, if we give them the tools…

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    Jane: My contact info including email address is on:

    Podcast audio quality depends on the settings the podcaster has used when they compressed the file and published it. In my case I usually publish podcasts at 32 kbps. iTunes songs are usually encoded at 192 kbps. That’s the quality difference. You may be able to use some special system that enhances the audio sound of mp3 files, or just use a good audio system, but if the encoded quality of the audio is poor then there isn’t much more you can do.

  4. Wes (et al.):

    I set up a couple of Ning social networks yesterday, including and I like the service and it was easy to do. I’ll be interested if they bring any value to those constituencies.

    I also set up a couple of family social networks–one more public and based on my unique Irish last name, and another that’s private and could be used by my children and their cousins without any concerns by the parents. The only thing I have been disappointed in are the Google ads there–a lot of ads for bikinis and girl-related stuff.

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