Sean McGrath’s report on coping with RSI reminded me of a couple of things. First, I need to find out whether the chair-mounted split keyboard shown here is still available. It’s been hugely helpful to me over the years, but I’m not sure it can be replaced at this point, and that would suck.
(Update: Uh oh. Discontinued 3 years ago.)
Second, I’ve been meaning to note a connection between computational thinking and health. Sean writes:
RSI is about the most complex problem I have ever tried to debug.
His reference to debugging might seem like a geeky affectation, but I don’t think that it is. When you’re searching for the causes of health problems, including mechanical ones like RSI, it can be fiendishly hard to, as Sean says, “establish repeatable causal connections between events.” Our bodies are complex, layered systems. Problems arise at different levels; the levels interact; any assumption may need to be questioned. But ultimately our bodies are systems, and computational thinkers can be pretty good at hacking and debugging them.
You see it when geeks deal with RSI. And you also see it when they deal with obesity. I known seven or eight technical types who have slimmed dramatically in recent years. We’re talking major weight losses of 75 pounds, or 100, or even more. In each case they describe the process in the language of computational thinking. “I hacked my body.” “I debugged my metabolism.”
Sean is right to offer this disclaimer:
I am a computer geek. Not a medical practitioner. If you have symptoms, go see a doctor, ok?
And yet, in my experience with RSI and with other kinds of mechanically-induced soft tissue injuries, doctors can’t help much if at all. What’s required is realtime analysis and debugging of a complex system, on a continuous and perpetual basis. The person best equipped to do that debugging is you, the owner, operator, and inhabitant of the system.