A Facebook for the Ages 6-10 Crowd

June 9th, 2010 by Rachel Forgus

At first it sounds terrifying, but in fact the purpose of Togetherville is teach children early-on how to become good digital citizens. It is in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and was actually developed by those trained in child development, learning, and online safety.

Courtesy of CNN.com

Courtesy of CNN.com

Aimed to bridge the gap between the parent and child, the child actually signs up through the parent’s Facebook account, which will increase Facebook’s reach, and can only gain contacts with the parent’s permission, placing the responsibility of monitoring on the parent. It is both ad-free and strictly monitored hoping to ensure safe interaction.

Courtesy of Switched.com

Courtesy of Switched.com

The mission of this site is two-fold: 1) to foster safe-social web use starting at a young age and 2) to teach children digital expression as a compliment to their school education. The hope of this site to help children transition into the digital and social network dominated world in which we live as smoothly as possible.

Posted in Technology | 221 Comments »

We’re Adults Now.

January 15th, 2010 by Julie Hill

XKCD is a wise, beautiful sage.

I was thinking of getting a couch or something for my room, somewhere for guests to lounge around. F*ck new couches. I now have a ball pit in my room.” – xkcd

Insert 'ball' joke here

xkcd’s Randall gets a little fun and poignant, gleefully describing the process of creating a real-live ballpit in his home. Impractical? Childish? That depends entirely on your definition of those things, and what ‘being an adult’ means to you. In my opinion, he’s absolutely right; who’s to say that doing things we loved to do as kids isn’t what we should be doing now as adults? If a ball pit is what you want, and you can make it happen, why not? Enjoy it.

How to:
Ball Pit Pt. 1
Ball Pit Pt. 2

Posted in Thinking | 123 Comments »

Happen, Inc.

January 11th, 2010 by Julie Hill

There is a storefront near where I live that has been having some identity problems in recent years. It was a hair place, then it was another hair place, then it was a pet shop, and I’m pretty sure it was a few other things in-between, so when I saw it was undergoing a change again, I was honestly a bit skeptical. But as the days passed, the interior construction began to look more and more interesting. Hey, were those chandeliers? What’s with that big red curtain, and who made the terrific art that has found its way to the walls? What exactly is moving in here?

Happen, Inc.

Located at the corner of Chase and Hamilton Avenues in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood, Happen, Inc. is what erm…happened to that storefront, and it is an art space for kids and adults. They have all kinds of lovely programs, events and open studio time at the Northside location, all of which is totally free and open to the community. Keep up with their blog to get a good idea of what they’re all about.

Happen, Inc.

What a perfect addition to the neighborhood. Organizations like this that promote creativity and interaction for kids are not numerous enough. As I have harped in the past, the more opportunities kids have to create and explore, the better they’re going to end up, and Happen is providing that opportunity for the children around Northside.

Happen, Inc.

For those of us who (claim to) have advanced beyond the coilpot stage (c’mon), there is a grownup open studio the last Sunday of the month called BYOProject which is recommended for all your knitting, doodling, projecty needs. Come, relax, and remember what it feels like to just sit and make.

Posted in Design | 150 Comments »

Extreme Makeover: Mickey Mouse Edition

November 6th, 2009 by Chris Strong


So apparently at 81 years young, Walt Disney Co. has decided that Mickey Mouse is showing signs of aging and needs to go under the proverbial knife and get some much needed animation plastic surgery. It’s finally time for Mickey Mouse to step up into the new millennium and become a bit more ‘edgy’ and ‘rogue’ apparently. I’m thinking full sleeve tattoos, gauged ears, perhaps a mohawk and a lip ring, but that’s just me. Perhaps Walt Disney Co. is preparing Mickey for an upcoming cameo in a new Grand Theft Auto game. It’s possible, “Grand Theft Auto: Steamboat Willie & the Disneyland Disaster.”

All that said, it’s fun to think about how one would remake everything about the iconic Mickey Mouse if given the chance.

Posted in Design | 148 Comments »

Magic + Design

October 30th, 2009 by admin


As dorky as it sounds, I got really into magic tricks as a kid. I still remember the times when I would go to the local magic store, there were so many tricks, so much mystery in that tiny shop. From the ages of 7 to 15 you would always find me with a pack of cards in my pocket, asking anyone I saw if they would like to see a magic trick. I’m a little older now, but still have kept my collection of magic tricks. My 10-year-old son has found my suitcase filled with tricks, and now he is getting into magic.

Technical magic

Recently I came home from work and my son showed me his latest card trick. He told me that he had been working on it all week. The trick, though short, was executed wonderfully. There was only one problem: there was no story to it, no engagement, no drawing me in, keeping me at the edge of my seat. That’s when I started to explain to him how showmanship worked and how important it is to bring people along on your story.

There was an epiphany in there for me. As designers, sometimes we spend all of our time on the technical aspects of our work… the perfect colors, how to reduce radial gradient banding, getting that comp just right, but along the way, the story and the mystery gets lost. We can all appreciate the technically beautiful things. But it’s the story, getting people to share in a journey, which brings things to life. Where is the story in what you made?

Posted in Design, Thinking | 11 Comments »

The Power of the Arts

October 20th, 2009 by admin

I count myself very lucky to have grown up in a school district that had strong arts offerings: early exposure to art and especially music had a profound effect on my development as a creative thinker. Neurologist Oliver Sacks says that music is essential to the development of the brain, and Milton Glaser argues that without the ability to draw, we lose the ability to understand and interpret life. Plus, there are plenty of publications advocating and confirming such claims.

It is very sad that a lot of American children won’t have the early exposure to the arts that I did. The fact that arts programs tend to fall victim to cost-cutting measures is news to no one, but it really makes no sense. Try to name one profession that wouldn’t benefit from creative thought, I certainly can’t think of one. Arts education is all benefit, though it is also hard work. But it will pay off, I guarantee it.

Posted in Design, Thinking | 4 Comments »


October 20th, 2009 by admin

Safe-Doh Ad

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’m not a parent nor plan to be any time soon but if I was, after seeing these Play-Doh ads I’d be sold. This ad from Singapore talks to parents directly to remind them that kids can be creative and have fun with Play-Doh but most importantly, have safe fun.

Safe-Doh Ad

Posted in Design | 156 Comments »

Tiny Art Director

October 12th, 2009 by admin

Imagine, if you will, your illustration project going like this:

There are generally so many issues with the creative that the Tiny Art Director doesn't know where to start, so she just tears it up and demands a juice box.

The Brief: A dinosaur in a X-Ray
The Critique: I just want to see a little mousey in his tummy
Job Status: Approved (after addition of mousey)
Additional Comments: That’s what kind of bones dogs like to chew on. Dinosaur leg bones.

Read more of the Tiny Art Director’s critiques and thoughts on design here.

Posted in Design | 9 Comments »