October 11, 2009

An Introduction

Casey Rae-Hunter is guest blogging this month.

Greetings, all.

It's my pleasure to be contributing to Sentient Developments through the month of October. Being asked to come aboard was not quite as much of a shock as, say, US President Barack Obama getting a wake-up call about winning the Nobel, but as an avid reader of SD, I'm nevertheless honored to chip in at one of the finest future-forward sites on the planet (and maybe beyond).

Now that the flattery's out of the way, allow me to introduce myself and some topics I'll be covering during my tenure.

I'm a 35-year old political communications professional from Washington, DC. The core of my work is in media policy, which puts me at the spear's tip of fascinating debates concerning Internet and broadcast issues, copyright, technology and law. I probably won't be blogging about many of those topics, but I figured a little context is appropriate in this getting-to-know you phase.

Here's an important caveat: while I have an abiding interest in science and technology, I have but a layman's background in each. So as I'm waxing philosophic about H+ or possible futures in cognitive development, remember that I do so as a observer, not an expert. One of the reasons that I gladly accepted George's invite to contribute is because I knew it would be an incredible learning experience. I encourage readers to correct me where I'm wrong and not to be shy about expanding my horizons on any given topic.

Speaking of "given topics," one that I plan to examine in some detail is that of neurodiversity. In August 2009, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, confirming what my wife and I had long suspected. Part of my coming to terms with this new information was to begin publishing an adult-AS blog, Autistic in the District, which functions as an adjunct to my main site, The Contrarian Media a daily publication featuring 11 active contributors who write on everything from paranormal investigation to politics. To be sure, I could have tossed in the occasional rumination on living with "high functioning autism," and no one would've been outraged. Yet I wanted to personalize my experiences in the form of a true web journal, which
The Contrarian most assuredly is not. My wife also wanted to offer "aspie"-oriented book reviews and talk about the positive aspects of being a "neurotypical" spouse married to someone with AS. Because a lot of what's online is pretty negative in that regard.

I'm not gong to go into the litany of reasons I decided to "disclose to the world," but the predominant motive was to serve as a positive example for other adult aspies. It's important to remember that the condition is relatively new in terms of clinical understanding and observation, having only been part of standard Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnoses since 1992. That means that most of the current strategies vis-a-vis Asperger's focus on children and young adults. There's nothing wrong with this, but having grown up in an era when there was no "autistic spectrum" — just tragically non-communicative individuals whose condition was thought to be brought on by "refrigerator mothers" — I know there are a great many other adults with AS who might feel sympatico with my own aspie experiences. I'm also interested in contributing to the robust public debate about whether Asperger's and other PDDs are actually gifts, rather than afflictions.

So what does any of this have to do with cognitive destiny and/or design? That's what I hope to ponder during my October hitch. Of course, I may also do the occasional theoretical tap-dance around the Fermi Paradox and the intersection of Buddhism and neuroscience. Because this is Sentient Developments, after all!

But I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave it at that. Thanks again to my gracious digital host — I'll talk to you soon. . .
Casey Rae-Hunter is a writer, editor, musician, producer and self-proclaimed "lover of fine food and drink." He is the Communications Director of the Future of Music Coalition — a Washington, DC think tank that identifies, examines, interprets and translates issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy. He is also the founder and CEO of the Contrarian Media Group, which publishes The Contrarian and Autistic in the District — the latter a blog about Asperger's Syndrome.


ZarPaulus said...

Ah, another aspie who is interested in H+, though as a Molecular Biology major I might end up actually applying it. In case you're wondering I was diagnosed early in life but I'm less than 20 years old so it's not surprising.

Casey said...

I'm pretty sure anything I do in rekation to AS and H+ will be advocacy-based, as I lack a background in science. That said, I follow what I can, and grok most of it. I do sometimes wonder what it would've been like had an AS diagnosis been available in the late '70s, early '80s -- particularly in terms of my academic outcomes.