[NetBehaviour] Code Is Not Literature

Jamesafdafdafdasfdas Morrisfdsafdsaafdsafdsafdsa jwm.art.net at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 11:29:37 CET 2014

On Jan 24, 2014 2:20 AM, "Pall Thayer" <pallthay at gmail.com> wrote:
> And, as a reply to Seibel's comments, do we not "decode" literature? I've
always felt a deep divide between people who have a background in
programming/engineering/tech stuff who have moved into creative realms
("Art") and those who have a background in the arts but have moved towards
programming/engineering ("tech"). It feels to me that the tech-background
people have a harder time seeing programming as "art". To them, the product
might be art, but not the process. They tend to be the ones to raise the
question, "is the paint brush the art?" It all depends on how you approach
it. The "paint brush" can, in fact, be the art.

I'm not convinced the paint brush can be art. if I go to the £1 shop and
buy a pack of brushes with bristles falling out who am I kidding to call it
art? its just giving justification for the view of modern art as
pretentious b.s..

I think that unless you're immersed in some way the art world on a daily
basis then these claims about things which ordinarily are not art to be art
don't make any sense and are difficult to grasp or see any relevance or
worthiness in. time and time again I forget and must be reminded and am
coming to think its about time these sorts of things were paid less
attention! I don't know!

> On Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 8:11 PM, Pall Thayer <pallthay at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Alan, I think you make an excellent point here. "Who is looking at
the code and for what purposes?" The only thing that differentiates
programming code from other written text is its perceived purpose and
people's reasons for reading the text. If, in reading, you look for prose,
you will find it. If you don't, you won't. Likewise, if you look at an
image, seeking art, you will find it. If you're looking for something else,
you won't find the art.
>> On Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 7:06 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
>>> Well, there are a number of issues here. In the first place, they're
looking at code for particular reasons, to understand it in particular
ways; code as literature or as part-objects within literature (codework) is
not meant to be decoded the same way. Think of counting the number of "t"s
for example in a poem - that's also a way of decoding it, but is of course
different than literary reading. I think there's a hermeneutics involved
here, as well as the Wittgensteinian idea of "family of usages" - so who is
looking at the code/codework, for what purpose, and so forth? It's
problematic; since code is primarily originating with programmers, they're
interested in its functionality, taking it apart, but that's not it's only
function, certainly not within the aegis of literature. An interesting
aside to this of course is reading a mathematical text, which I think _can_
be a work of literature fairly directly - for example Einstein's theory of
relativity. One's reading speeds and slows, and the formulas require
decoding as well, but of a different sort, I think; I also feel that, say,
cosmological formulas are denser and more layered, more difficult to
unravel perhaps, than most programming code - but I may well be mistaken
here (and should take this whole sentence back!).
>>> - Alan
>>> On Thu, 23 Jan 2014, marc garrett wrote:
>>>> Code Is Not Literature - or is it?
>>>> I was browsing Slashdot as one does and found a link to an article
called ?Code Is Not Literature?.
>>>> As I was reading this I was thinking of Mez and Alan Sondheim, and
thought to myself - surely, if someone turns it into literature, then it is
>>>> Anyway, have a read and see what you think?
>>>> "Hacker and author Peter Seibel has done a lot of work to adopt one of
the most widely-accepted practices toward becoming a better programmer:
reading high quality code. He's set up code-reading groups and interviewed
other programmers to see what code they read. But he's come to learn that
the overwhelming majority of programmers don't practice what they preach.
Why? He says, 'We don't read code, we decode it. We examine it. A piece of
code is not literature; it is a specimen.' He relates an anecdote from
Donald Knuth about figuring out a Fortran compiler, and indeed, it reads
more like a 'scientific investigation' than the process we refer to as
'reading.' Seibel is now changing his code-reading group to account for
this: 'So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and
then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a
better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist
returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local
scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found.'"
>>>> Here?s Seibel?s original text on his blog
>>>> http://www.gigamonkeys.com/code-reading/
>>>> wishing you well.
>>>> marc
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>>> ==
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>> --
>> *****************************
>> Pall Thayer
>> artist
>> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
>> *****************************
> --
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> Pall Thayer
> artist
> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
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