Friday, April 07, 2006

Firefox for Kids

Dietrich Ayala, Firefox engineer, presented to 120 fourth graders as part of career day on various topics including Firefox, Mozilla, and open source software. Here are a few of the more interesting quotes from his presentation notes:

  • Though almost every kid said they surfed the web, when I asked if they knew what a "browser" was, only a couple kids knew. However, I know that they actually *were* surfing the web because of the questions that they asked. It seemed that the browser was a piece of infrastructure that blended into their general computer experience.
  • Anywhere from 5-10 kids in each group had heard of Firefox.
  • 1-2 kids in each group had heard of “open-source”.
  • The kids knew of viruses and phishing. They didn’t understand what they were, but knew that they were bad, and from the internet.
  • They thought the Firefox logo was cool. They thought the Mozilla logo was cooler :) Especially the boys. Several started grilling me on the anatomical incorrectness of the dinosaur: “If it’s from the pleocistene family it’d have a bump on it’s head and the nostrils would be in a different place.” I had no response to that. (Dietrich)

I suspect that some of these findings would apply to adults, too. Many people do not really understand what a browser is or what viruses and phishing are.

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