Best Of Both Worlds

There is a common image being passed around and it has been irking me for awhile. While I agree that the image on the left is generally preferable to the one of the right, it assumes that one cannot love both nature and technology.

Gullys And Programming

My backyard in St.Thomas backed onto a gully. This provided ample opportunity for exploration; in the winter, it was great for CrazyCarpets. Some people dumped their old appliances and other garbage down the gully, especially near apartments. Dumping rubbish was pretty common back then. These days the gully is naturalized and overgrown.

My parents along with many of their friends purchased the early Atari computers, specifically the Atari 800XL and a tape drive. It plugged into the television, game cartridges went into the top and the computer had a built-in keyboard. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I discovered BASIC and a joystick drawing program that my father had input out of a magazine. I realized that some computer languages could be read by humans and began making changes. I added drawing modes, shapes and other options. Thus began a lifelong fascination with the creative capabilities of computers and programming.

Another Perspective

I created my own version of the image that better reflects my own childhood. I grew up with early microcomputers, rotary phones, record players and spending a lot of unsupervised time outdoors. I didn’t have a muddy stream nearby but I couldn’t find an image of kids playing “avoid the toxic pool” around where some appliances were dumped.

Having Both

I still love hiking and exploring, though usually in safer areas now that I’m old. As for computer programming, I definitely do that too. I’m very happy to have grown up at a time where I could immerse myself in both realities without the interference of adults. If I grew up in a world of safe play zones, endless team activities and scheduled screen time, I would probably try to escape through a smartphone too.