Under 13? No Tumblr for You!

Retro KidsBack in November, I asked in a post “Would You Encourage Your Child Break the Law?”  It was a look at statistics about the number of parents who had set up Facebook accounts for their children under the age of 13, which is against their terms of service. My stance then, and now, is that the rule is 13, so not until she’s 13.

However, I’ve apparently unknowingly broken my own rule.

This past January, I helped her set up a Tumblr blog, for a number of reasons.  First, I thought it might encourage her to write more since she’s got a natural inclination to express herself through the written word (example from her at age 6 when upset she didn’t get her way and later same day), but thinks the writing assignments at school are boring. Second, her current career ambition is to be a fashion designer, or to “take over that lady’s spot on ‘What Not to Wear’ when she gets too old,” and Tumblr is a bit of a fashion industry darling. In early 2011, their founder and CEO David Karp told Mashable that approximately 180 of the top 1,000 Tumblr blogs were fashion-related.

But, the blog didn’t take off with her. We both found the Tumblr web interface to be a bit clunky. And the web app won’t work on the hand-me-down, non-activated 3G iPhone she has. She only made one post of her own after we initially set it up. So, neither of us had logged in for quite a while.

A recent discussion at work about our corporate use of Tumblr and where we should or shouldn’t go with that prompted me to revisit it, however, and I was greeted with a new terms of service (TOS) to accept.

Normally, I’m as guilty as the next person of not bothering to read before I accept the terms (what are our choices, right? accept or stop use?) and I know I’m not alone. According to Jeff Sauro, founding principal of quantitative research firm Measuring Usability, no more than 8 percent of users typically read terms of service agreements in full before accepting them, the ZoneAlarm blog tells us.  And, LifeHacker has “How to Quickly Read a Terms of Service” tips.

But, for some reason something made me stop and look at this one and that’s when I found out my daughter’s unused tumblelog would be against the rules now if actually used. New language added after we created her blog says:

No individual under the age of thirteen (13) may use the Services or provide any information to Tumblr or otherwise through the Services (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number, or email address). You otherwise may only use the Services if you can form a binding contract with Tumblr and are not legally prohibited from using the Services.
You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We’re serious: it’s a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation, even if you’re 12.9 years old. If you’re younger than 13, don’t use Tumblr. Ask your parents for an Xbox or try books.

I must say, I do like the use of humor to make these dry, necessary documentations at least a little more interesting. There are a few other “hidden gems” in this one that more active users of the site noticed back when these terms were updated in March.  Gizmodo called them “the only likable terms of service we’ve ever seen.”

The age limitation seems a bit extreme at first when thinking of Tumblr as just a blogging platform, but as Mary Kay Hoal, founder of Yoursphere.com, points out “the fact of the matter is, Tumblr, like many websites, blog platforms and social networks, does not have the content filters or oversight in place to ensure a healthy experience for your child.”  And Persephone Magazine tells a tale of one mother shocked by the images of porn she found on her teenage daughter’s Tumblr dashboard.

So, I guess I need to find somewhere else to go if she does decide to pick back up the idea of a blog. I see platforms for teachers to use in the classroom like Kidblog.org or monitored blog sites like Kidzworld.com, but it’s full of ads.

Anyone out there have good suggestions for where the not-too-childish-but-still-somewhat-protected-pre-teen set can blog?

 Image via Creative Commons by Anne Harding

Shazam Moves from Song ID Service to the QR Code for Television

Shazam the mobile app, if you’re not already familiar with it, is not the comic book character you may remember. Or the t-shirt Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon likes to wear (here with a matching red Dell XPS laptop <wink>).Sheldon - Shazam - XPS

No, this is a company started in 2002, “even before the advent of smartphones,” according to their web site. They began as a service designed to connect people in the UK with music they heard but didn’t know. It now boasts 200 million users in 200 countries, and of course, several competitors like BMAT, Splash.fm, StumbleAudio (no longer in service) and SoundHound.

I’ve not used any of those competitors, but I have used Shazam a few times and it’s always done a good job of identifying songs for me – even when I tested it with some obscure Blues. But, the story today is no longer whether Shazam or SoundHound is the better way to identify that song you just heard. So what if SoundHound is growing fast and now passed 80 million users?

Shazam has already moved on beyond the user-as-product format that makes growth in users its main hope for profitability. Now they’ve got media powerhouses like Billboard magazine writing headlines for it like this “Billboard Music Awards: Biggest Televised Event in Shazam’s History After Super Bowl, Grammys.”

FastCompany was talking this time last year about “Shazam’s Second Act,” noting that the company had set its sites on becoming a “large-scale consumer platform for the discovery of all kinds of entertainment and content.”

I first really noticed it back in October 2011 when I tweeted props to Progressive insurance for being, well, progressive, and using Shazam rather than Facebook or Twitter in a television commercial. Someone else saw one of those commercials even earlier and felt the experience could use some improvement.

I’ve been seeing more and more commercials with Shazam recently and got to thinking that it could be television’s answer to the QR code. Apparently, I’m not the first to make that analogy.

  • Eliot Van Buskirk asked on evolver.fm back in February if audio was the new QR code and noted “It’s not just about ads — it’s also about providing the much-vaunted ‘second screen’ experience, which allows fans to augment their experience of television entertainment with stuff that goes along with what they’re seeing on the screen.”
  • Diary of Traveling Souls did a nice comparison of two companies’ ads that use Shazam and how one scored where another (the Progressive one mentioned previously) failed.
  • Cory O’Brien wrote about it on The Future of Ads and imagined “out of home campaigns that use small speakers to play audio that’s beyond the reach of human hearing, but can be picked up by the phone to connect the ad with a mobile experience.”

But back to the news that SoundHound passed Shazam in user base. If you haven’t already heard, the phrase this sort of mile-marker announcement brings about is something to the effect of if you’re not paying for it; you’re the product.

SoundHound is still currently banking on those 80 million users to be their product, while Shazam is working with Madison Avenue to create a product they sell to brands. And, potentially even bigger, if their recent attempt to sell MIB3 tickets through the app works, they will have successfully shortened the sales funnel from broadcast to back pocket.

SoundHound looks like they’re trying to do a quick follow of Shazam into more media integration with the recent hire of a former Pandora executive as their new vice president of advertising strategy and sales, and the promise of “incredible opportunities for brands to participate.”

But, to keep the original QR code analogy going here, I’d wager they’ll be the equivalent of Microsoft’s Tag.