Cassandra Khaw is one of those people who takes pride in the fact she's a full-time, hardcore geek. She claims to be capable of reading binary still and spends too much time rewriting her code. By day, she's a PHP programmer who moonlights as designer. By night, she's either MUDding, in a cybercafe or practicing street dance. She can also be bribed with penguins and brownies. Right now, she's webmistress and columnist for TK-Nation as well as a contributing writer at JayIsGames.
Now that the formal introduction's out of the the way; hey there! I write. I code. I do a lot of things. But mostly, thanks to both my regional situation and the ethics at my work place, I write about things that won't get the censorship board breathing down my neck. On the surface, I'm your average inhibited Chinese person living in South-East Asia. Underneath, there's a raw, seething ball of rage and -- well, you get the idea.
No self-censorship here and probably a lot of irate thoughts pertinent to things I've seen or written elsewhere. Enjoy the verbal flailing.
So, how do you tell your grandparents that people pay you to write about things they can't understand?
It's been a few days since I last wrote anywhere but I blame it on the fact that I went off to visit estranged relatives. Even if the trip is several weeks before, you find yourself enduring a certain amount of twitchiness. After a lot of uncertainty, a little bit of grief and no small amount of terror, I went to see him.
My grandparents are old. They're also senile. Well, borderline senile. At the age of ninty-four, it was pretty amazing to see my grandfather flippantly tell me the currency exchange rate of the sterling pound. Hell, I follow the Forex and I can't muster that much easy understanding myself. But while I was there, they also asked me a few other questions. You know, the normal things; who are you, whose your daddy, where do you live, what do you do.
I told them people paid money to read about video games. That I was kinda like a reporter except that I only ever got to see virtual fires.
It wasn't the reporter part that bothered them, mind you. They understood that just fine. But it was the concept of video games that they had so much issue wrapping their minds around. These were old people, old people who saw games as things like chess and poker and all those things you associate with the roaring twenties. The notion of actually interacting with the television outside of changing channels and volume baffled them.
Eventually, we figured out a way to explain to them about how things work but it got me thinking. In another seventy years, where will technology put us? When my grandchildren put on ear pieces and see the entire world change into a digital realm, would I understand? On one level, I'm guessing it's probable. I mean, we have fiction. But, you know, so did my grandparents. It didn't make seeing the new world impossible.
We go about lives without noticing the little idiosyncrasies common to our generation. I stare at a dictionary and immediately, my mind goes 'where's the search button'. I laughingly twist jokes about World of Warcraft and call people 'noobs' when I'm frustrated and I have no problem using a mouse the right side up.
But is it really that natural? Looking at it from an outsider's perspective, the very idea not only seems foreign but almost alien. A mouse is a rounded piece of plastic on the table; how is it the gateway to a new world? There are a hundred letters on the keyboard - how do you keep track of them long enough to even type on them?
Seventy years in the future, they might be using music or smells to explore their idea of the Internet. Where is it going to leave us? In the dust, yes, but how far behind in the dust? Worse yet, what if the world backpedals into an industrial age without such things? Could we live crippled by the lack of computers?