At school, I was largely a goodie-two-shoes – however, that is to say – I was was aware of the line, and however close I was to it, I did my best to ensure I wasn’t caught crossing it. I’m dubiously proud to say that I never got a detention.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t always successful, and after a particularly creative, episode of circumventing content filtering systems so I could access my webmail (which for some reason was blocked), my parents and I were called into the headmasters office.
Tut. Bad Tim.
After I explained how I simply wanted a way to check my webmail account every day at school during my breaks, the headmaster suggested I might be “addicted” to technology.
Me, being a being a hot blooded young man, retorted:
I’m not sure comparing an interest in technology to illegal substance abuse is appropriate to this conversation.
In hindsight, whilst that clearly wasn’t the way in which they intended the word, I feel this speaks volumes.
During those years of school, I spent many waking hours playing with technology. I certainly spent more time playing with technology than any other single activity, but I wasn’t “addicted” – I was interested, and thirsty to learn.
For inexplicable reasons, there were absolutely no academic opportunities for me to develop these skills, and so using Portable Firefox and Tor to bypass content filtering and access Gmail in my spare time, seemed a relatively productive.
Suggesting I was “addicted” to computers, was just as shortsighted as it would have been to suggest that my more academically studious classmates were “addicted” to revision.
Whilst my punishment (downgraded from suspension to effectively being banned from using any computer in the school), let them keep the perception that content filters work, and stopped me breaking their AUP on a daily basis, they failed to recognise the problem – that they were just years away from being asked why they did not teach “app development”, or indeed any technology subject.
Essentially they were sealing the middle fingered handshake goodbye from me as just a year later, I moved schools, and 18 months later was working in industry.
I hope that in the future, my grandchildren won’t be accused of “being addicted” to their “Raspberry Pi 3000″ – simply because they’re fascinated by how it all works. Please help us make that future.