As I get to grips with thinking about the future with the weighty responsibility of another actual person depending on me for survival and development, it’s tempting to attempt to recreate my childhood for her.
My childhood was pretty special, as it happens. I grew up on a small island, with close friends living nearby, opposite a beach, with plenty of opportunities for spending time outside exploring castles and inside with various musical instruments. However, I also spent a significant fraction of my time tinkering with the latest and greatest technology. The BBC Micro B, the Acorn Archimedes, the Super Nintendo, and eventually an IBM PC with the ground-breaking Intel 286 chip were all available to me to code on and play with. My friends and I experimented with networking, digital music, and ran a BBS dedicated to the Acorn Archimedes1 from first a 2400 baud, then a 9600 baud modem. All of these things added up to a lifelong love of doodling around with technology, computers, and video games.
So it is tempting to find all of these things and introduce my ward to technology through them. I have a NES, and a Sega Genesis, and I wouldn’t mind a nostalgic trip down the Acorn lane. However, it occurred to me that this misses the point entirely: Aside from the possibility2 that she turns out to not be interested in technology, what was important about my childhood was the access to the latest technology, not any particular technology. It is, of course, true that the BBC Micro and Archimedes were well suited to the experimenter and the hobby programmer, and I don’t think I would have ended up as a career programmer without my time spent filling the screens of the computer in the physics classroom with ‘DOM IS COOL’. The technology that is around today is so far removed from that if I was to start learning to program today on a BBC Micro, and then try to develop a full web application, or a mobile game, I’d be hopelessly behind the curve. By the time I’d caught up, technology would have moved on and I’d have no chance to grow and develop with it.
Instead, then, I consider it my duty to ensure my progeny has access to the latest technology and, should she show any interest towards developing games or applications, will seize that opportunity with both hands and encourage her. If this means I have to keep the latest gadgets around just in case, so be it3. Right now, this means mobile development platforms, the ubiquitous cloud, and the web. I have no idea what it will be in a few years, but whatever it is, my scion will have access to it.
Clearly, it is equally important to expose her to the latest in gaming platforms and video games, just so she experiences the cutting edge. And I’ll have to spend time with those platforms and games too, so that I’m as familiar with them as she will be.
Oh yeah, and I should work on that whole ‘spending time outside’ thing too I suppose. But first, I have a 6502 computer to build.