The OLPC support-gang is wonderful. Since we have weekly conference call meetings and I can't hear over the phone, Ian, Chih-yu, and others transcribe furiously for me in chat, and ask questions on the phone that I'm typing equally furiously in return.
I'm incredibly grateful for this, and try to make up for it by posting copious amounts of notes afterwards. I feel kind of bad about needing it, since translating for me means that my friends only have part of their attention in the main chat, which puts them at a disadvantage. I wish there were another way.
Playing with hardware, code, and talking to people en masse is actually easier for me to get started with in a text forum than in a real-life one. I've known this for a long time. With one-on-one conversations, things that require physical presence/interaction, and people I already know, in-person talking is best, but when the input in question is raw information, text is much, much easier to understand.
Whereas other people catch snatches of conversation around them and learn about gossip and tips and shortcuts that way, I catch peripheral conversations in text. I don't have to spend most of my concentration and energy in figuring out the words other people are saying, so I can spend more of my time figuring out what they mean. And what I should do about it. And thus I have more time to do it, and can communicate back more clearly when I'm done.
Anyone who's been in a class with me where we had a text chat (such as Rob Martello's course on SciFi, where DJ and I did our presentation has discovered that I can be a real chatter-mouthed terror in that media - everywhere at once, typing all the time, managing a dozen or more separate streams of conversation while reading other references and intermittently stabbing at circuits in front of me.
Anyone who's seen me in a large classroom, a busy multi-person conversation, an area with high levels of background noise, or talking on the phone has seen just the opposite. As long as I'm immersed in a visual/text stream, I'm good - the instant auditory data enters my list of things to pay attention to, I sink. In the absence of lips to read, I need perfect silence and my ear pressed up against the blaring speakerphone turned up on highest volume to function well.
I can read and type like one possessed, and draw and write at rates that most people can't keep up with. I've optimized for it, both consciously and unconsciously. But auditory data... my ability to handle that needs practice, and a lot of it, and even then I think my limits are already close to being reached.
There's much to be said outside of words, though - how can I keep myself from overspecializing into a one-input-type life?