s5e11: Things That Have Caught My Attention
By Josh ClarkPublished May 20, 2018
In a recent edition of his excellent stream-of-consciousness newsletter, Dan Hon considers Alexa Kids Edition in which, among other things, Alexa encourages kids to say “please.” There are challenges and pitfalls, Dan writes, in designing a one-size-fits-all system that talks to children and, especially, teaches them new behaviors.
Parenting is a very personal subject. As I have become a parent, I have discovered (and validated through experimental data) that parents have very specific views about how to do things! Many parents do not agree with each other! Parents who agree with each other on some things do not agree on other things! In families where there are two parents there is much scope for disagreement on both desired outcome and method!
All of which is to say is that the current design, architecture and strategy of Alexa for Kids indicates one sort of one-size-fits-all method and that there’s not much room for parental customization. This isn’t to say that Amazon are actively preventing it and might not add it down the line - it’s just that it doesn’t really exist right now. Honan’s got a great point that:
"[For example,] take the magic word we mentioned earlier. There is no universal norm when it comes to what’s polite or rude. Manners vary by family, culture, and even region. While “yes, sir” may be de rigueur in Alabama, for example, it might be viewed as an element of the patriarchy in parts of California."