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Vn81.1 Imitating Machines 9/3/77

Ever since their first encounter with the Votrax Voice Box back in
May (Logo Session 5, 5/22/77), both children have thought it funny to
imitate the peculiarly mechanical tone of that speech generator. I have
suspected some correlation between my asking them questions they consider
stupid and their adopting this mode of reply, but that speculation
has never been clearly tested. Today, in between the sessions for Robby
and Miriam, Robby entered the room I was in and said something in Votrax
mode. I have felt generally uneasy about this imitation and I complained:
“You are not a Votrax Voice Box.” Robby responded (in Votrax
mode): “I am too a Votrax Voice Box. But I can do other things besides
talk. I can walk. And think. And poke.” (Here Robby poked me in the
stomach). I grab him: “And get tickled.” “And run away,” he concluded
as he broke away from me.

At the end of our day’s work, Robby was lying on a desk whereon was
a pencil sharpener. Miriam entered, sharpened her first of six pencils,
and held it up for examination. Robby blew the wood and carbon dust off
the pointed end. Miriam told him to stop and he did. With the next
pencil, at the appropriate time, Miriam commands Robby to “blow”; he does.

Miriam

I’ll push your thumb. That will be your stop button. . . . Blow.
Robby

(Blows on pencil end and stops when Miriam presses his thumb.)
(Robby then gets up, stands beside Miriam, holding up two thumbs —
one for starting, apparently.)
Miriam

Hey. Instead, this button can be for sort of running in place.
Your nose will be the start button. (Miriam raises a pencil before him
and presses his nose.)
Robby

(Blows on pencil and runs in place.)
Miriam

(Presses his ‘stop’ thumb.)
Robby

(Stops)
Miriam

(Presses ‘start,’ ‘stop,’ and ‘run in place’ buttons all at the same time.)
Robby

Arrgh. How did I ever get mixed up in this?

Relevance
This game of imitating machines, like ‘Follow the Turtle’ of
Vignette 42, is a direct outgrowth of the children’s experiences art
Logo. Does Robby seriously think of himself as a machine? If he does,
he is also articulate about highly specific differentiae. . . and maybe
that’s not too wrong.

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