I like kids. No, scratch that - I love kids. Hell, not many people know this, but I actually used to be a kid. Infinitely curious with an imagination that knows no bounds, children have a way of seeing the world which is uniquely their own. They are nothing less than little people, with their own sets of rules, societies and laws, and one of the main reasons so many people find it difficult or awkward to interact with kids is that these people try to force children to step into in our "real" (ahem), man-made world, instead of working our way towards being accepted into the grand societies that children have built.
I must have been around 6 or 7 years old when I got my first computer; the family's Coleco Adam. Unlike most kids who had the marvelous opportunity to be exposed to computing at such an early age, I did not go on to become a hardcore, Godlike programmer nerd. This may have been due, in no small part, to my computer's tendency to "generate a surge of electromagnetic energy on startup, which can erase the contents of any removable media left in or near the drive." However, it did serve as a critically important introduction to the logic of programming, user interfaces, gaming, and science fiction. Several hundred "goto line"s and "run 80"s later, the path to personal technocracy had been laid.
Naturally, upon realization that my exposure to these themes was critical in shaping me into the strapping fellow you
see read before you, I became a strong evangelist for the sort of exploration encouraged by these early computers. In his post “Tinkerer's Sunset”, Mark Pilgrim details his version of this shared experience many young kids went through at that age:
"As it happens, this computer came with the BASIC programming language pre-installed. You didn’t even need to boot a disk operating system. You could turn on the computer and press Ctrl-Reset and you’d get a prompt. And at this prompt, you could type in an entire program, and then type RUN, and it would motherfucking run.
I was 10. That was 27 years ago, but I still remember what it felt like when I realized that you — that I — could get this computer to do anything by typing the right words in the right order and telling it to RUN and it would motherfucking run.
That computer was an Apple ][e."