PeoplePublisher's note

Issue #145

Who gets the coolest people for cover stories? We do. Who gets the coolest interviews with those cover stories? We do. Why? Well, first, because we’re cool like that, and second (this is actually first) is because we have the coolest, smartest and just hands-down best staff at Russian Chicago magazine. Writers, editors, designers, managers – these guys rock! If you go to our site – www.russianchicagomag.com, – you could learn a bit more about them; it’s all there. These guys deserve some praise.

Our cover story in this issue features an extremely talented, ambitious, charismatic and interesting designer – Dmitry Sholokhov. Yup, that’s the guy from “Project Runway”, which he’s won twice! And that’s a big deal, not even mentioning that he’s worked for Calvin Klein and Domenico Vacca. Think about it: Dmitry came here from Belarus 15 years ago, by himself, with no one to lean on. It’s a great and inspiring story, and I truly hope, you’ll enjoy reading it.

…From time to time I use this opportunity to share something with you from a tech world that I find useful. There is a new service called Bark (www.bark.us), aimed at parents who want to keep their kids safe online (as I’m hoping most of us do). Unlike traditional “parental control” software or net nanny-type watchdog applications, Bark’s goal is to strike the correct balance between respecting a child’s right to privacy and protecting them from online predators and cyberbullying, while also looking out for issues like sexting or mental health concerns. The idea for Bark comes from a founding team of parents themselves. CEO of Bark, Brian Bason, whose kids are now 8 and 11, left Twitter last July to begin working on Bark. “So much socialization happens through connected devices. As a parent, that raises the question of how you keep them safe in that environment, but still let them explore and harness the power of technology,” Bason explains. The problem is that there’s not a great solution for this today. Either parents have to install spyware-type applications that record everything the kid does online, or they have to regularly grab their kids’ phones and read their texts, log in to kids’ accounts using their passwords and basically make a huge manual effort to stay on top of their kids’ online activity and communications. This process isn’t ideal for kids, either. “The child feels like they have no privacy or ability to socialize independently of their parents,” notes Bason. “And it sucks for the parents because it’s so time-consuming,” he adds.

To use the service, parents sign up online at the Bark website, add their kids, then work with the children to connect their social accounts including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Flickr, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube and GroupMe, as well as email accounts hosted on Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo. Plus, unlike many parental control-type applications, it also supports SMS and MMS messages on both iOS and Android. Once set up and configured, Bark uses machine learning techniques to look for incidents of dangerous activity, whether that’s cyberbullying, sexting, a child interacting with an older stranger who could be grooming them (as online predators do) or even signals that the child could be experiencing a mental health concern like depression or suicidal thoughts. I think it’s a great idea and a very good approach. Sign up and try it for yourself. Talk soon and cheers!

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