Glubble’s the brainchild of Ian Hayward, a longtime friend of Mozilla, who contributed his own time & his company’s time over the past several years to help us build SpreadFirefox, the Joga extension, and others. He’s obviously an important community member, and a devoted dad to his children — and that intersection is where Glubble comes in.
They’ve built a pretty major extension for Firefox that enables kid-browsing. At the basic level, they’ve built a UI on top of Firefox that simplifies the user interface for kids. You can recognize the basic elements of Firefox, with the back & forward arrows, the URL bar and the search field, but it’s of course simplified for smaller kids to use, with cool visual thumbnails at the top for quick navigation.
In addition to the UI reworking, they’ve implemented some whitelists & search filtering, so you can make sure your kids are surfing stuff that’s appropriate. But they’ve also built in a communications mechanism — so that as your kids (inevitably) click on links that are outside their Glubble-world, you as a parent will get a message in your browser — at home, work — wherever you are — and it’ll let you grant or deny access to what they’re trying to look at (and clicks beyond if you want).
I think there are 2 particularly neat things about what they’ve done here. The first is that Glubble isn’t trying to dumb down the Web — they recognize that the whole Web is important — that the whole Web has legitimate and useful content on it, depending on context more than any particular key word. The second is that this is a whitelist combined with active parenting approach — which means that the parent should get more involved as the child surfs.
This won’t be for everyone — our best guess is that at present, most of our users may not have kids — but I think it’s a tremendously good addition for families. My wife & I are thinking about this more and more for ourselves — we’ve got a 2 year old at home, and he’s been fascinated with pictures from Wikipedia (Emu) and videos from YouTube (mostly Moose & Garbage Trucks) since he was maybe 9 months old. He’s got his own (not-connected-to-anything) keyboard that he types e-mails to grandparents on, too. Wanting control on the Web can’t be too far away, so I’m glad that Glubble is thinking about it & innovating in such great ways.