Nick DeNardis

User experience, code, higher education, analytics and accessibility.

Why my dog has a twitter account but my daughter does not

I have been meaning to write this post for some time but to be honest time has escaped me this last month. Little things like being the technical director for TEDxDetroit (opens new window), running the Chicago Marathon (opens new window), hiring a project manager (opens new window), hiring a full time developer (opens new window), and the birth of my first child (opens new window) have kept my attention. It has been a fun ride filled with a lot of unexpected surprises.

# @foxydenardis (opens new window)

(opens new window)As a lot of you know, my dog Foxy has her own twitter account (opens new window), it is a great way to extend her personality to the world. Twitter is a source for instant information, asking questions and giving feedback to others. Almost immediately upon creating Foxy's Twitter account she was followed by a handful of other whippets and greyhounds. They have been a great resource of information; twitter connects her to a larger community that just isn't available in our immediate area.

I wanted something similar for Cecilia. Thinking about the people who would be following her I knew a Twitter account would not work. Only a handful of our family have Twitter accounts and frankly the user experience of Twitter if you are not familiar with it is intimidating. Long term I want Cecilia to choose the social networks she would be interacting with. Who knows if Twitter will be around in 5-10 years and I didn't want to put her social capital in to a service that could be gone at any moment.

# (opens new window)

(opens new window)I'm a huge fan of owning, no matter what it should always be a destination to give public insights about yourself. For me, is your resume, it is how the world sees you. Buying (opens new window) is the least I could do to give her an identity beyond our household.

I was reminded about this while listening to a talk by Clay Hebert (opens new window) at LessConf (opens new window). The point he makes is when your child is graduating high school with a 4.0 and involved in three sports what is going to make him/her stand out? There will be thirty or forty other students graduating with the same credentials. Having a website where they can develop their writing skills, post about projects they worked on, and be able to explain to the world that what they are doing matters. There is no better way to know someone than exploring someones strengths than to see a history of them.

Using a domain as a single destination give us/her flexibility to what goes on it. Right now I choose to use Tumblr (opens new window) since it requires basically zero setup and is perfect for posting photos, this is what we plan to use it for until she can type. The other great thing about Tumblr is it allows people to subscribe how they want, via the dashboard, RSS (opens new window) or email (opens new window). A side benefit is each post gets emailed from my email address (looks like I sent it personally) which allows family to reply directly to me. This may seem insignificant but in the past few weeks I have talked to and learned more about distant friends/family members than ever before. Twitter is a great tool but for this audience they just don't understand it, talk to them about websites and email though and they know exactly what to do.

If you have a child I think the single best thing you can give them is It is cheap and has the potential to significantly help them in the future.

What tools are you using to document your child/children's lives? Anything public? I would love to hear about what is and is not working for you.

Follow Cecilia DeNardis at: (opens new window)