Monday, March 31, 2008

Naughty Auties

Interacting with people via the web is much like interacting in the real world. To most of us, the differences are probably more interesting or annoying than anything else. E-mail doesn't convey tone of voice, so we invent smileys. Virtual worlds let us take on avatars and play with the way we present ourselves to others.

To those on the autism spectrum, however, the social cues most people take for granted in the real world are a confusing and arbitrary mess that must be painstakingly learned or otherwise dealt with. Having a smiley that says "that was a joke" can be more than just a convenience. The relatively pared-down and stylized social vocabulary of a virtual world can create a safer space than the cacophony of, say, a coffee shop or party.

At least, that's what I gather from this interesting CNN iReport on "Naughty Auties" and autism in Second Life. It's a beautiful thing to see people taking advantage of the quirks of the system to make life better. I wouldn't quite call it a "neat hack", but it's certainly what the old-fashioned hacker ethos (as opposed to the script-kiddie stuff that happens to have the "hacker" label attached to it) is all about.

1 comment:

earl said...

I got this from a friend. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/229
It turns into a sermon, which makes its conclusion grossly oversimple, but nonetheless........