Autism and Genius –Two Sides of the Same Coin Among Programmers, Engineers and Musicians
Lakewood, CO – Like Einstein and Bill Gates, Cory Golden is naturally gifted in things technical—at 22, he can write programming code in more than 30 languages. Like Einstein, Gates and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Golden struggles with symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Recently, to help his mom, Ylice Golden, a graphic designer who promotes live music events on social media, he coded a software program for gig promotion. (While small talk and social cues are tough for those with Asperger’s, programming often comes naturally.)
When a band or bar books an event, GigGizmo automatically updates their website calendar, creates an event page, posts an immediate announcement to social networks, schedules timed reminder posts, and generates a RSS feed. It also creates an API which is picked up by search engines and other event sites that crawl for local data.
Simply put, GigGizmo does all the online grunt work for live music events.
Tech Whiz at Ten
Golden’s technical genius showed up early. Cory has been fixated on computers since he was a toddler.
When he was 10, bored and needing a challenge, Ylice contacted Patch X, a Virginia-based charity that gives needy children and handicapped people access to computers, asking if they could put the boy to work. Later that day, Patch X founder Brian Wilson showed up with broken computers. Wilson said not to worry if Cory didn’t get them back to him; he was happy to leave the kid something to tinker. An hour later, Ylice called Brian back to the house. Young Cory was so excited had already repaired all the computers.
“Genius May be an Abnormality”
Temple Grandin, a PhD professor at Colorado State University, is, like Cory Golden, a high-functioning autistic. Grandin worries that children who would have been labeled “intellectually gifted” in another age are “being denied opportunities because they are being labeled.” The association between autism and technical genius is strong: In the general population, approximately one in 200 people show signs of Asperger’s, but fathers and grandfathers of children with the syndrome are twice as likely to be engineers. Grandin notes that we all have different gifts, and it’s likely that “genius is an abnormality,” that social geekiness is just the flip side of technical genius.
Golden’s mom, Ylice, would agree. This past year, Cory was struggling with college. He wasn’t sleeping. He was anxious and losing weight. She finally agreed to let him drop out in favor of self-study and finding an appropriate technical project. "When people talk about high functioning autism, they mean people just like my son,” she says. “He can write programming code in over 30 languages, but functioning in social environments is overwhelming and stressful for him."
Ylice, a freelance designer, was having her own struggle with time-consuming music bookings for clients when Cory offered to help. Her problem proved a blessing in disguise. "It was a light-bulb moment,” she said. “I was excited, because I knew that GigGizmo was a project that could help so many people. It would allow my son to know that in this world that we may not all have the same gifts, but that we can use what gifts we do have to make an impact."
Curiously enough, many of the musicians who will be using GigGizmo struggle with same of the same autism-spectrum issues that Cory Golden has faced. Mozart was one of them. So are singer-songwriter James Taylor and guitarist Travis Meeks.
GigGizmo for Musicians, GigGizmo for Fans
Over the last six months, mother and son have been adding features to GigGizmo to help musical performers, small venues and fans connect. For musicians, the app now includes features that streamline the gig-making process from booking to calendaring and social media posting.
Fans wanting to attend live shows simply visit the GigGizmo online site and click on “Find Bands.” They quickly see a list of shows and a map via geo-location. The app is designed to be as slick as it is simple. There's nothing to download, and the app works on all supported browsers for Windows, OSX, Linux, IOS and Android.
The Goldens have started crowd-funding on Indiegogo, and they're are almost ready to start accepting beta-testers.
What’s Different About GigGizmo
The GigGizmo approach is different from other music sites because it is not a music site. It’s a promotion tool designed specifically for the local live music industry. GigGizmo doesn't offer music sales, capitalize on ticket sales, nor does it try to up-sell various services and products.
Its sole purpose is to help the local live music scene. As Cory Golden puts it, "GigGizmo is not about selling music recordings. And it isn't about packing an amphitheater 50 miles away, but where to find local talent playing at the brewpub two miles away."
crowd fund: https://igg.me/at/GigGizmo/