I’d like to take some time to lay out the ideas I have for the SwitchBoard project. This is a specific idea that arose as part of the Disability-Driven Development concept. It’s also a concrete step towards the more radical, long-term vision I explored in Peeking Into a Future. The path from “here to there” is long, uncertain, and complicated – so I want to dig into what exactly I’m doing, and how I think it will help us get there.
One of the more common day-to-day struggles of my life, as someone who is both autistic and invisibly disabled, involves coping with my very tiny pool of executive function. This is a fancy phrase to describe a mundane problem: I find it extremely hard to do things.
In order to continue surviving, let alone actually having any kind of life, I’ve needed to learn how to deal with this. Fortunately, even though “accomplishing things” is often a struggle for me, thinking about things is a skill I essentially cannot turn off. So, true to form, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to cope with not being able to do things. This is a collection of some of those thoughts.
I’ve spent a lot of time, over the years, thinking about how to help people connect, interact, and form community – especially in digital spaces on the Internet. I’ve participated in many kinds of communities, and been a part of shaping a few as well. This is a collection of some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
It’s been six weeks since I published Disability Driven Development. A lot has happened with that project in that time – more than I can fit into this update. There will be more news there soon, but I wanted to take a moment and explore a bit more of what I’m doing, now that the why is out there, as well as to dig into more detail about how I imagine all this unfolding.
One of the most useful skills I’ve chosen to develop in my own life is that of empathy. This is an exploration of how we can invest in and strengthen that skill, and how it can unlock tremendous improvements in life – both within ourselves, and around us.
It is a glimpse into play as a way to befriend our imaginations; and imagination as a way to befriend everyone – and everything – else.
I’m writing this on the evening of December 3rd, 2022 – on what is referred to as “International Day of Persons with Disabilities.” If, like me, you prefer identity-first language for such things, you may also have a renaming of this in your head – my own is “International Disabled People’s Day” – but regardless of how we phrase the notion, it seems like a useful moment in which to articulate something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.
I’ve got a lot to say about who usually creates digital technology – particularly software – and how that’s a problem. But more importantly, I’ve got some thoughts about how to change that.