By Katrina Schwartz
Refrigerators and fireplace mantles might still be covered with children's projects, but more and more, those projects are finding a home online.
That's just one of the purposes for the launch of DIY.org, a site that allows kids to upload photos of their projects and share it with their friends, family, and the public.
Here’s how it work: Parents help their children set up a profile that's linked to the parent’s email, which gives parents access to a dashboard showing everything that's been posted on the account. To protect kids' privacy, kids choose an animal character and a nickname (the prompt clearly says "Please don't use your real name!") to identify themselves on the site. After that, it’s easy to click on the big upload button, choose a photo, give it a title and create a digital art portfolio. Parents, grandparents, friends or anyone else can then search for their portfolio by nickname and give the project stickers to show support.
That's just the beginning. The next iterations of the site will include ways for kids to create DIY videos and upload them for public view, allowing them to share projects and learn from each other. Though there's no public gallery yet, the site will eventually open up the community to public view -- with parental permission of course, according to Zach Klein, the CEO and one of the four co-founders of the San Francisco-based company. Klein is perhaps best known for starting Vimeo, a project he thinks relates to DIY.
“The boldest thing we’ve done is give kids a public facing page," he said. "It’s obscured, but still, the fact that kids have a URL is bold.” But he thinks it's time for parents to get comfortable with that idea, and help their kids enter the online world in a safe way.
The creators also wanted the comment system to be 100% positive, which is why the only way to comment on a piece of art is to give it one of four stickers: Awesome, Beautiful, Favorite, and Genius.
Right now, DIY is a free service. Klein said they also have a premium feature in development, available to users who who pay a monthly subscriber fee, which they hope to release in the early summer. Klein says much of the service will remain free, however, because he sees children as an “under-served” virtual population.
“I want to help convince kids and their parents that creativity is as fundamental to their growth as a person as anything else that they are taught,” Klein said.