Human interface

A freind of mine has an adolescent son with Aspberger’s; something I don’t want to have to imagine. The child said very little until he was three, though he spent a lot of time listening to tapes. Then, one day in the kitchen, he suddenly recited to his mother the whole of one of these tapes, doing all the voices, starting with “Side one. Copyright BBC enterprises”. The performance went on for fifty minutes.

What can you say? I said that I thought computers might be helpful for him. It turns out, though, that he is not terribly interested; and that his younger brother is much better. This is, I think, because modern interfaces are more human — ie more attuned to our emotions — than we give them credit for. The command line would make much more sense to such a child. So I have burnt him a “knoppix”:http:/// CD. Very probably, it will not interest him at all, though in that case nothing’s wasted. If it does trigger an obsession, I suppose I should prepare to feel guilty now. But surely the company of nerds is better than no society at all.

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