[…] [This post follows up on two previous posts on WRT. Here are the original posts ( 1, 2 )and a follow-up post by Jeremy.] Critical Code Studies first began as an inspiration here on WRT. This December marks the formal launch with the publication of “Critical Code Studies” in the electronic book review and with Rita Raley’s “Reading Code” panel at MLA 2006 in Philadelphia. What is Critical Code Studies? […]]]>
Rita Raley recently passed me a Salon article, David Brin’s “Why Johnny can’t code“, (2006-09-14) that takes the reverse approach to the accessible graphics / inaccessible text stereotype. In it he moarns the loss of an installed base of line programming languages and the subsequent loss of pedagogical opportunity - BASIC integrated well with textbook learning:
Those textbook exercises were easy, effective, universal, pedagogically interesting — and nothing even remotely like them can be done with any language other than BASIC. Typing in a simple algorithm yourself, seeing exactly how the computer calculates and iterates in a manner you could duplicate with pencil and paper — say, running an experiment in coin flipping, or making a dot change its position on a screen, propelled by math and logic, and only by math and logic: All of this is priceless. As it was priceless 20 years ago. Only 20 years ago, it was physically possible for millions of kids to do it. Today it is not.
I can’t help but think of hieroglyphics and mathematical equations. Both of these are inviting to me because they are (to me) a bundling of complexity, bursting with meaning. I guess code, although a command, a marker to an action, is actually fairly one-dimensional…in that mark-up is mark-up. Some words will have meaning outside of the code context but the instructions, the programming language is meant to be fairly one-dimensional. And, of course, there is the bias against programming by non-programmers (those who fear or do not understand it). To me, code is interesting because of its creative — as in creation — possiblities. I think good code images are those that you see in sci-fi films of a body or object constructed of code. So you see the relatinship, the implication, the application immediately.]]>