Dyslexia the reality of daily life…

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I had drafted this blog for a while now and rewrote it a few times, then I read Chris’s blog post about Aspergers and decided it was time  to post it and be done thinking about it. I’m split the post up. This one about daily life. The other about love. Of course they both intersect.

I am a proud dyslexic, I came out (as such) along time ago and even have it in my blog subtitle. I write openly, hoping this will encourage the many other dyslexics and generally more neurodiverse people to come out (in lui of a better word).

From the start

I always knew I was different when I couldn’t spell short words, the lessons made little sense and I was easily distracted by other stuff. The words had a code/pattern which made no sense to me. By the time of primary school, it was clear something was different about me.I couldn’t follow peoples voice directions without translating it into a map or something visual.

Tying laces, ties or knots was a small nightmare mainly due to trying to remember which hand is left and which is right. Because of this I became slightly ambidextrous which would confuse things further

My primary school  did send me for dyslexia testing but I never finished it and so my dyslexia wasn’t officially diagnosed till over 10 years later at Ravensbourne College while trying to write my final year dissertation. This means I had no help, allowances or support all the way through secondary school and most of my college life.

Reading was also difficult for two reasons. The line lengths and the words. My mum would regularly take me and my sister to the local library and I managed by reading lots of non-fiction.

In that period of time, the seed was set in my mind and I read up about dyslexia and found coping mechanisms which centred around using computers to remember everything I couldn’t remember or spell. I bought a  2nd hand HP 200LX pocket computer with my saved up paper round money and used for lots of things. That was my first and I followed that with the Compaq Areo and Ipaqs.

Time management

I am notoriously bad with time. But thats only half the story. The reason why I’m so bad is because I tend to pack a lot in. To give you an example.

I live all of about 10mins walk from the Piccadilly Station (the major station for Manchester) Knowing its only 10mins away I tend to leave about 15mins before the time of the train leaving, I should really leave 20mins before to be sure. But what typically happens is knowing I can make it in 10-15mins, I end up doing stuff right up to the last minute I can leave. Maybe I can send off a few more emails, put bleach in the toilets, empty the recycling, etc, etc. With that I end up rushing to catch the train.

The way I see time is more elastic than others and this does seem to be dyslexic trait.

Time management is very difficult, if not impossible for many Dyslexics.   This is not due to them being lazy, thoughtless or uncaring. Dyslexics are right-brain dominant thinkers and live in the present. The past and future belong to the left-brainers.

A Dyslexic tends not to look at their life in any kind of a systematic way. They are often called “free spirits”, “flighty” , “unfocused” or “easily distracted” .

Welcome to the flow

I also tend to get fully immersed  in things and tend to forget about time as I enter the flow state. Luckily the flow state tends to be with other people as we bounce ideas around.  So its not directly responsible for missing the train most of the time but there are many times when chatting with somebody or some people, that time will just slow down and I wont even realise what time it actually is, meaning I’ll miss the last train or bus home.

Flow is a interesting state and there are certain people I feel the flow with more than others. The other night at a party I was pleasantly surprised to meet a women who I suspected was dyslexic but look through her book shelf confirmed it. We talked till 3am and to be honest could have talked the rest of the night easily. Insert joke about two dyslexics in a cafe never leaving.

I’m curious about everything and find creative people  quite attractive (this is where the sapiosexual stuff comes). I do find people concreted in reality a bit boring and tend to ignore them a little. I find these people too straight-laced and too conformist for my thoughts. I am not conformist… I’m black, I’m dyslexic and a self confessed geek. I have found my as a bit of spokesperson for the all of those things at times in my life. People come to me with stereotypes in mind and I break them in half. I won’t lie, I kind of enjoy the look on their face when I challenge their stereotypes.

Know thy self is what they say, and to be honest through my life experiences I do know who I am.

Working with dyslexia

I feel my mind is consistently on the go, bouncing from concept to concept. A few people in the organisation, have said “we pay you to think” and I frankly that plays to my strengths.  I am so grateful to be in a job which fits but I know so many dyslexics people who struggle with their job positions.

BBC R&D is very academic and frankly I haven’t chosen a  academic course for my life. Luckily the research world is in the middle of being radically changed by the internet (like most things) and this means conceptual thinking and collaboration is better treasured. If I had applied to join the department in the past, my cv/application would have been binned. But I was adsorbed into the department with my position as BBC Backstage.

I find work is full of people who are bound by the tangible and my unique selling point is the intangible, forward thinking and the essential need to collaborate. This why I partly find academic papers interesting (building on other ideas) and ever-so backwards (why are they so hard to write?)

I have little time for non-collaboration, I actually think every project I have ever done in BBC R&D, have been done with an external organisation of some kind. Information security love me, as I use tools which have collaboration baked in. They must have a fit every-time I try something new but I do take security seriously and struggle through end user licence agreements to understand whats really going on.

Literacy, language and memory

This is the stuff everybody thinks about when they think about dyslexia but there’s other elements which you may not think about. Consistent with most dyslexics my short term memory is bad. Trying to remember a phone number, ip address or email is a little nightmare. I changed my voicemail to reflect this issue.

Reading out-loud from a book or text is a nightmare I don’t have to visit too much since leaving school. Sometimes I forget the problem till I get up and start reading. For example I read a chapter from my book in a get together and the feelings of trying to do it came flooding back. Its the reading and speaking outloud, its not being in front of a small number of people or talking. I do that all the time and learned to ditch speaker notes and find my own style which just happens to be best practice for presentations.

Learning a different language is painful to say the least. I don’t know if its a dyslexic trait but I have such a hard time trying that it seems almost pointless. Thankfully the technology has my back, as I found out in Tokyo.

The future is intangible

I am seriously blessed to born in a age where whats in your head isn’t a sign of intelligence. However not everybody has got the message yet.  The nature of business has changed and being authentic and collaborative is key. Its also very clear a diverse workforce is better than a monolithic workforce.

I met a woman once who wrote a academically sound paper as a series of videos. She passed her PhD with the series of videos and her fight to get it accepted is something I’m not unaccustomed to.

I’ve had to fight for many things in my life and to be honest I will never go down without a fight. Being dyslexic is a card which I was dealt and there are advantage and disadvantages. Especially when it comes to my social and love life…

Could I imagine life not being dyslexic? Heck no!

(To be continued soon…)

Women Are Sexual Predators too

The apparently benevolent hangover of sexist attitudes does women no favours. If women are to own their own sexuality, they must also own their potential to be sexual predators with all that this implies.

From the Festival of Dangerous Ideas: Alissa Nutting’s Women Are Sexual Predators. Its a great talk and Alissa really outlines the appalling double standards. Within the talk there are parts which further my thoughts about why I’m a feminist. Equality extends both ways.Its a complex equality…

Got to say the festival of dangerous ideas looks really good, will have to look out for it this year.

How can you still be single?!

Killer Prom Date - Dig The Grave Black & White

I opened OKCupid to find a message which brought a smile and with some time a puzzled look to my face. The message was…

I’ve lurked your profile on and off since we spoke. How can you still be single?! 🙂

The lady in question is lovely but the distance is too far and shes quite young. Whats the rule again? (Half your age and add 7?) Ok if I go by that rule it wouldn’t be so bad, but I generally go for slightly older it has to be said. But she’s quite mature, going by the things in her profile.

But as I said, I had a puzzled look after a while.

I answered her message with…

Honestly… I think my modern attitude and values seems to cause conflict with women my age. I tend to go for older women but they also tend to be in relationships or have old school views. Distance tends to be a problem and for some reason I end up falling for the same type each time…

Keep lurking…

I thought about it quite a bit since and even had a discussion with my sister.

First thing, I’m not one of those guys who believes I should be in a relationship. This isn’t a goddamm right of being born. Secondly I know the lady in question meant it as a honest question rather than a slap in the face.

So why am I single?

Some suggest I may actually like dating (well I do enjoy meeting new people). Others say I just haven’t found the one (yeah right, I don’t believe in the one) others think I might be a secret playa and even a womanizer! (cheers sister) Of course I totally disagree (although I can see the haters, laughing this one up). Another friend in Manchester thinks I’m making everything up and I’m actually not going on dates. MancNewgirl recently said I was a ex by ex… “Dating Expert by Experience”  something she came up with on the spot. I certainly liked that, and fits nicely with my unofficial tag line of the wikipedia of online dating.  Wikipedia because my advice is made up of lots of experiences and trust me its not made up. Sheila promised a book to me which explains exactly why I’m single (but even after 4 years) I still have not seen this mystery book? (I don’t even know the title of it). Some say its the clothes I wear, I have already had a offer to take me shopping for new clothes in a Queer eye for the straight guy remake. Although I agree, sometimes I should get the clothes out the washer/dryer a little quicker or do a tiny bit of  ironing (which I bloody hate).

All interesting but brings me no nearer to understanding why I’m single. I mean who wouldn’t want to go out with a modern geeky gentleman who has modern views and is a feminist? I get I’m not exactly in shape and have a face which is better for radio. But I’m confident, funny, smart, tall, dark and handsome?

My sister also suggested my comfort with female kind might be putting other women off? I can’t understand why, and to be honest if a potential women is put off because I have quite a few friends who are female. Then that’s simply crazy and I’m not going to give up being friends with women because of her insecurities. The fact I might have dated a few of them might be some area for concern but within the first hour of chatting with me, it should be clear there is never going to be anything questionable

This whole thing reminds me of a Single Black Male post I saw a while ago. Am I a picky or patient dater? Maybe I am too picky and settling isn’t such a bad thing? This also seems consistent with my recent lack of speed dating dates. The ones I’m interested in, don’t seem to be interested in me? Don’t even get me started on my very bad tinder activity. But at least the online dating side isn’t going so bad.

The idea of settling does bug me and give me much to think about. On the whole, I feel too young to settle (don’t ask me what age this changes as I have no idea). However everything I read seems to indicate this isn’t necessarily the case, for example this is something I read while putting together slides for Dating, Lies and Algorithms recently.

“The future will see better relationships but more divorce,” predicts Dan Winchester, the founder of a free dating site based in the U.K. “The older you get as a man, the more experienced you get. You know what to do with women, how to treat them and talk to them. Add to that the effect of online dating.” He continued, “I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete.”

Why settle at all? Now some of you may say “Well this is typical of your generations lazy self-centered and selfish attitude. In my day, we had kids by the age of 22” And it would be hard (but certainly not impossible) to debate against the first part of the statement. But bear in mind I was married at the age of 23! Its not like I wasn’t open to everything.

There seems to be a connection between education (will find the reference later) and the amount of kids you may want/have… Now you could take the statement above and say well I’m being selfish but I disagree, my parents (I’m sure many others did the same) encouraged their kids to pursue their dreams by getting a decent education and making something of themselves. That push to better thy self, leads to finding a partner who is equally ambitious?

Why would you settle for less?

Consequence or Inception of connecting people

I saw the below tweet and felt like it needed to be not just retweeted but also blogged…

Help this teacher make a great point to her students about the consequences of social network use. Please RT widely

From Twitter

It says…

I want to illustrate to my junior high students (grade 7-9) how fast a photo can be shared on the internet. Please “Like” and “Share” this image to help me teach caution and discernment to the students in my classes.

Although a great idea and I’m not against teaching and eduction, but its worth pointing out the incredible power this also brings to each and everyone of us. Empowerment should also be taught in the same lesson. Never has there been a way to connect a mass audience at such low cost and such speed. The inception of the internet and social media is a great thing too. And its too easy to teach the negative. The internet and social media isn’t something which should be feared, rather taught how to responsibly participate in.

 

Data Portability for Educators

This is the slides I used for the Educational Jisc event. The event went really well and although there are over 80 slides, I managed to wiz through them in about 30mins, leaving plenty of time for questions. Someone commented they were pretty blown away and would need to review the slides again because there was just so much information to take in. Another lecturer, commented that she will spend more time in the future looking at eula's and data portability features before recommending them to students. So a good result all round.

Yes there was a geekdinner about Dataportability which I was part of. Imp has put up a complete video of the night which I'm not going to watch ever (hate watching myself on video). Enjoy.

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The rate of change in education?

Rates of Change

I found this via the are you paying attention blog. The person behind this has a point, and sums it up so well with this beautifully crafted graph.

It doesn’t matter how much <Insert School District Here> grows (or plans to grow) over 5 years if everything outside that school is changing 10x that speed.

2006: My Tasks With Computer
1. Instant messaging (In Game & Out of Game)
2. Audio (Music, Streaming Audio, Podcasts, Conferencing)
3. Gaming
4. RSS Feeds
5. Web Publishing
6. Word Processing
7. Email

1996: My Tasks With Computer
1. Email
2. Word Processing

Most schools ban instant messaging, audio, gaming, web publishing, and email….leaving computers for a) word processing/productivity and b) research. Roughly the same stuff we were doing in 1996.

Although I understand the reasoning behind banning the other activities at schools, it certainly doesn't help encourage young adults into courses around computers and the internet. Although I guess most young adults will be drawn into the industry and further education through there own home computer setup (hopefully). Lets face it if computers were just about email and word processing most of us would have gone elsewhere to express ourselves. Where's the social aspect of computers? Where's the self expression?
They maybe young but were stifling their creativity surely?

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ARG’s and Education

I saw this in my aggregator today, Calling All ARG Academia.

With the Alternate Reality Gaming Special Interest Group whitepaper still in development, we have a request from our friend Christy Dena who writes extensively about ARG at her blog Cross-Media Entertainment.Needed: Academics who have investigated Alternate Reality Games
I'm writing a section on ARGs and Academia for the upcoming International Game Developers Association Alternate Reality Game Special Interest Group Whitepaper (IGDA ARG SIG). I'm after approaches from all fields using all sorts of methodologies, and by researchers at different levels of candidacy and postdoctoral status. Since there are many investigations in development around the world I'm including unpublished insights and findings along with published ones.

Well how very interesting, this is exactly what I was thinking quite sometime ago. Using ARG's in education seemed like a logical solution for teaching and meta teaching (teaching about how to teach someone else).

The post goes on…

Alternate Reality Games have captured the imagination of players and academics from its beginning. Academics have analysed the form through comparative analysis with other arts types both contemporary and historical; have employed the aesthetics of ARGs as illustrations of cultural phenomena; have utilised ARGs to interrogate the nature of reality and fiction; utilised ARGs design for pedagogical applications and have also proposed reframings of methodologies in light of the unconventional form. Consistently, however, they have tried to understand the emergence of thisform. Some of these academics are players, some are not. Some are independent scholars, some have made ARGs a subject of a PhD, the PhD or a post-doctoral investigation. Papers have been given at conferences, in journals and articles offered online. Their investigations into what an ARGis, the implications of the form on entertainment, the design of ARGs and the creative heritage of this form provide well researched and measured considerations that offer unique contributions for the benefit of players, designers, researchers, industry and media.

I'm going to subscribe to the Cross media blog for sure, its one of those areas I would like to keep my eyes on in the near future. Maybe a trend for the near future? Talking about ARGs for a moment, I've also been emailing a guy who commented on the runaway success of Perplex City (a ARG from a couple of great and clever english guys). He was talking about the need for Grassroots ARG's. So we've emailed back and forth a couple of times so far. TJ is his name and he's wrote a couple of interesting things.

Many of the staples of immersion have been done before, but just aren't commonly done, such as the pay phone calls, dead drop of items, having characters in the game contacting players directly instead of vice-versa.

I would like to see a greater emphasis on roleplayers acting as the characters, responding to emails, noticing players in the community and reaching out to them.

However, the step I am going farther is to branch out with factions. A couple games have promised an open-end to the game that players can change. We want to do the same, but go farther. Instead of a simple, direct puzzle hunt, what if the players are asked to step inside, investigate and then choose sides?

This is a real neat idea, kind of build the landscape and let people choose which sides they would like to be on in the landscape. The push and pull of each side would work to build up the narriative of the ARG.

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Some thoughts on the Wikipedia changes

I like many people have not said much about the recent stuff with Wikipedia but this post by Danah Boyd pretty much sums my thoughts and position on this subject. A few choice quotes.

Welcome to being a public figure – people will say mean things about you on the web. None of it is guaranteed to be true – its the web. (Of course, my view probably stems from being a native web kid – no one likes the meannies but weve gotten used to it.) Wikipedia is better than most of the web because YOU CAN CHANGE IT

I watched Internet Researchers take up the same anti-Wikipedia argument. I was floored. These arent just academics, theyre the academics who study the web. The academics who should know better. But they felt as though it was a problem that Wikipedia would allow for a man to be defamed

Its searchable and in the hands of everyone with digital access (a much larger population than those with encyclopedias in their homes). It also exists in hundreds of languages and is available to populations who cant even imagine what a library looks like. Yes, it is open. This means that people can contribute what they do know and that others who know something about that area will try to improve it. Over time, articles with a lot of attention begin to be inclusive and approximating neutral. The more people who contribute, the stronger and more valuable the resource. Boycotting Wikipedia doesnt make it go away, but it doesnt make it any better either

It will be truly sad if academics dont support the project, dont contribute knowledge. I will be outraged if academics continue to talk about having Wikipedia eliminated as a tool for information dispersal.

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