Content warning: text generated for the purpose of this essay includes references to genocide, anti-Semitism, racism, domestic violence, ableism. sidenote: in this essay I display terrifying familiarity with the dirtbag left podcast scene, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa
A project I’m working on, “Talking Typewriters Talk Back: Early Machine Teaching Experiments and the Autistic-Machine Link”, is going to be appearing at SIGCIS 2022 in November. Here’s the abstract (at least, as it stands today), with links for those curious about learning more!
During the 1960s and 1970s, a series of experiments involving the Edison Responsive Environment, the so-called “talking typewriter,” promised to improve literacy education for heretofore underserved student populations, including disabled students. While the ERE would give way to microprocessor-based tools and eventually personal computers, these experiments would continue and provide a corpus of lab reports, scholarly writing, press and government reports and other texts that describe the relationship between autistic people and computing machines. Taking into account recent developments at the intersection between disability studies and science and technology studies that focus primarily on the between autism or autists and technology, I posit that a reading of the ERE literature informed by understandings of crip, neuroqueer technoscience provides a view into the formative era of this now widespread conceptual and discursive tether, as well as a means of historicizing our understanding of educational technology as both a research area and an industry. Further, I argue that in taking this literature into account, it is possible to supplement existing understandings of this relationship as either a vector of exploitation or a potential site of solidarity by introducing an understanding of the autist as both researched and researcher — as both an object of curiosity and an investigatory and meaning-making agent.
I’m very excited to see this work get an audience beyond myself and the people I’ve infodumped to about it, and I’m going to try to share updates about my progress as we go, tagged “TalkingTypewriter” for easy searching.
Followers of my social media might be aware that I’m presently working on a project concerning the history of educational technology and its consequences for the perceived cultural and discursive connection between disability and the mechanical. Part of this work centers on a series of experiments carried out using the Edison Responsive Environment, perhaps better known as the “Talking Typewriter. While I’ve been working on this project, I’ve discovered a few curiosities that likely won’t make it into any paper that emerges from my research, but nevertheless captivate me sufficiently to cause me to write about them. Thus, I’m going to be posting some brief notes about some of these tangents, because I suspect I’m not the only one who might find them interesting. These are sketches, perhaps ramblings, but certainly not fully developed thoughts.
One of these tangents is the process by which the ERE was programmed; while the hardware aspects of the ERE are well documented (see Lockett, 2019 for a contemporary treatment) the specifics of developing ERE software deserve attention in part because it offers a window into how, before the emergence of standardized means, we set about constructing machines for personal computing.
Brief update since I’m writing from my bed with the latest variety of COVID-19, but I’m thrilled to tell you all that a part of Telephone Girl, the thing I’m writing and am not fully sure how to classify, is featured in issue two of A New Session, a telnet-based literary magazine edited by Cara Esten and Lo Ferris.
You can read it by (a) ensuring you have a telnet client installed and (b) opening a terminal window and sending the command “telnet issue2.anewsession.com”.
Anyway, COVID is awful, and I cannot recommend it.
I am not a connoissseur of local news. Most of the time it’s little more than a mechanism by which people can launder their petty grievances in print, and when it’s not that, it’s a vehicle for delivering paper advertisements for big box stores that inexplicably still exist. Still, sometimes one is in line at the gas station buying a Cheesewich (the ideal food for writing prose and staving off spironolactone sodium deficiency, much to the chagrin of pickle fans) and when one is in such a line, grasping one’s Cheesewich, one sometimes finds oneself staring at the newspaper rack, and one sees something truly dreadful:
I’m writing from the passenger seat of my wife’s car; the fun thing about being out in the middle of nowhere is having time to get some work done, and I seem to have better luck with that from this seat than in my actual office. I decided to do some document management and realized I could mine this process for content, so with that in mind, here’s my reading list for autumn 2021.
Those among you who know the “deep Em Cariglino lore” (and there should be extremely few of you) know that in high school, I was a very mediocre but very spirited debater. The side effect of all this, of course, is that whenever I hear the word “debate,” I wither a bit, if only because I feel a bit wounded by those years, and I feel a deep and unabating need to absolve myself of certain intellectual sins.
So I bought them. 152 of them: eight found serendipitously on etsy, another gross of them found the same day on eBay (I had meant to order thirty-six pencils, I ordered thirty-six packs of four).
And.. they’re fine.
Well, let me qualify that. They write fine, they make a consistent HB mark, they’re a bit scratchy, but that’s not what’s fascinating here. What I find delightful is that, well, these exist, they appear to have emerged while the Palomino Blackwing-type pencil already existed, and I can only find speculation about why they disappeared.
If you want some, buy from here, they’ll come reasonably quickly.