Niche Social Networks - LiveWire
By Anthony CARUANA
Tools like Facebook and Twitter are open to everyone and have no specific focus. Their focus comes from users - we determine which slices of the world, or which niches, we want to focus on. However, some online networks are focussed and specifically target particular groups of people.That's where LiveWire comes in.
LiveWire was launched about a month ago by the Starlight Foundation with the support of the Australian government. Their goal:
Livewire is designed to provide a free, safe and supportive online community for children and young people to hang out, connect, share experiences, creatively express themselves and know that they are not alone in their situation.
LiveWire is designed to "to help improve the emotional and social well-being of children and young people aged over 10 and under 21, living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability". In other words, it's an online hub for young people living with chronic health issues.
I avoided writing about LiveWire when it was first announced and launched as I thought it would be unfair to make a judgement on the value of the program when it had barely been operating. Certainly, when I first looked the volume and timeliness of content left a bit to be desired. So, how's it look today?
I must say I was little disappointed at first. The news section hasn't been updated in some time and only points to a couple of press releases. Why doesn't it pick up newsfeeds from kid's entertainment sites? Why not news from gaming websites? In fact, clicking on each of the lead links reveals that LiveWire is, at best, a work in progress.
Now, I did a slightly dodgy thing and created a user account on the LiveWire site. That opened up a bunch of new functions. All of a sudden, I had access to discussion groups, online games, movie trailers and lots of other interesting content. Now I could see why LiveWire might be of interest. For a hospital or care facility looking to provide a safe website they could conceivably provide some low cost PCs to patients and limit their access purely to LiveWire.
My only concern was that I was able to create a user account, as an adult, that let me pretend to be a child. I didn't interact with any children in the course of my research but it was a concern that I could create an account. Potentially, a predator could create an account and target kids when they are at their most vulnerable.
From a online community point of view, there's a lot to like about LiveWire. Sure, it is something of a "walled garden" but I'm not sure how a safe online community can be responsibly offered to children by the health care industry in any other way.
|Subscribe to Hydrapinion|