My dad was a therapist for a while...actually a music therapist...and one summer between college semesters when I was riding with him to UCLA, where he worked in the Neuropsychiatric Institute, I asked him what it was like being around crazy people. "I don't like to call anyone crazy," he said. "People just have a different way of being, and some of my patients have special gifts that I have not seen in other people."
That's the way I've always seen human kind, and maybe that's why I've gravitated toward the tech industry, which seems to have lots of people who think and act in different ways. It's not the cool, "Think Different" way of the Apple Computer ads, but a sort of gnarly, original perspective that I've come to appreciate. Many tech inventors I know have a hard time dealing with people but they have incredible integrity, vision, and passion for truth. I've come to appreciate those qualities more than "niceness" or the ability to anticipate and reciprocate another person's feelings.
Every month for more than a decade, I've been holding what I call a Cybersalon, an open forum for the discussion of technology and culture. This month, I put together a salon on Asperger's syndrome, a special way of being that seems to affect people in high technology more than in other fields, and I invite everyone in Silicon Valley to attend. We're also going to podcast the entire discussion at www.aftertv.com, so if you can't come, log on later on.
ASPERGER’S: THE GEEK SYNDROME?
5-7 p.m., Sunday, April 23
Hillside 2286 Cedar St. Berkeley
2286 Cedar St.
In 2001, Steve Silberman wrote a seminal article on the role of genetics in the apparent rise of autism in Silicon Valley
Panelists include Ellen Ullman, author of “Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents;” Steve Silberman, Wired reporter and author of “The Geek Syndrome;” the psychotherapist and educator Annette Blackman, who coaches young adults with Asperger’s; and Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of Linden Labs, which produces the popular multiplayer fantasy game, Second Life. Judith Grether, who is principal investigator for the California Center for Autism and Developmental Disability Research and Epidemiology (a mouthful!), will join us as well.
$15 donation at the door for food and drink. The Hillside Club is wheelchair accessible. Feel free to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, but it's not necessary...we did run out of food last time, though, so it would help to know how many folks are coming.