Q1 2022 - Report from the command line!
What we’ve built so far and how it’s going.
July 20, 2022
Why do we need a kid-first internet to be driven by humans and not algorithms? What is the difference between a good cookie and a bad one? And what is a cookie anyway? This and a bit more in this brief report from team URSOR.
An internet of humans - not algorithms!
Hidden behind YouTube is an AI that decides what we watch: the almighty YouTube algorithm, and it’s REALLY good at picking what our children want to see.
An estimated 1 billion hours of YouTube are watched by humans every single day, with 70% of that content picked by a complex recommender system that learns our preferences from what we click on. It tailors our recommendations to give us more of what we’ve already seen... these recommendations are useful! But they are also dangerous, and once we’re inside of a recommendation bubble, we’re stuck!
The URSOR app has been in TestFlight for a few months now, and with the help of our friends at Princeton and Harvard, Tommaso Bardelli and Martino Ongis, we’ve been testing and learning what real parents and children are making of our little browser and search engine for kids.
Every test and iteration gets us closer to something useful we feel would be worth paying for. The goal is simple. A great browser that keeps your kids safe while learning online, for the price of a cup of coffee. We’re iterating and changing the product as we go, but one thing has remained a constant throughout the process.
The Internet for Kids cannot be curated by an algorithm! The one thing that is clearer than ever, and something we promise, is that every link, YouTube channel, video or podcast, will be picked and approved by a human who cares, and not by a machine.
This week we’re testing out our search engine. It will search from a directory of hand selected resources only, and so far we have:
- 500,000 safe links
- 100 hand-picked websites/ directories of high-quality content
- 100 Handpicked YouTube channels
Our goal is for this to become a continuous activity at Ursor, reaching the following targets by the end of the year:
- 10,000,000 links
- 10,000 hand-picked websites
- 1,000 Handpicked YouTube channels
All selected and approved by humans that care, not by an algorithm.
The good cookie/bad cookie conundrum…
Stopping tracking on the browser means no cookies, but the reality of making a browsing experience work properly is more nuanced than that.
A cookie is used to store some information about the user across browsing sessions. This can mean saving a game so you return to the same checkpoint when you next reload the website (good), or tracking the user profile to target them with ads (bad).
Do we block every cookie regardless? Do we create a list of good and bad cookies? Do we enable the community of parents to label them?
Figuring out a way to manage cookies is one of the major challenges we’re working through at Ursor, so let us know what you think!
The URSOR family is growing.
Our extended Ursor family of employees and volunteers is growing! Erin Eby, mom of two and former children’s author has joined our ranks to help us write more content, and find more quality links for our kids to discover. This is all of us! Filippo, Joe, Alexis, Erin, and Homan!