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Thursday, May 12 • 11:45am - 12:45pm
Hello World Well Lost

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Here, I show how examples and illustrations drawn from introductory CS textbooks frequently cast knowledge of code and programming techniques in essentializing and determinist idioms; how esoteric jargon and in-jokes often dominate these texts, excluding outsiders from the start; and, significantly, how the often tacit assumptions that underwrite the rationale for learning to code while working towards a degree in CS are difficult to reconcile with the rationale a humanist might have for learning code.

Formed in the late sixties at the behest of the American military and global corporations, and everywhere dominated by the strategic norms of the marketplace (“good code” is efficient, scalable, rigorously standardized), the work of computer science is visible everywhere, and computer programming and procedural literacy their de facto domain. I ask, "What if disciplines from across the university worked to see themselves and their methodologies represented in the programming languages their students learn, and in the texts that teach them?"

I then describe a number of interdisciplinary approaches I have adopted in teaching graduate students from the humanities to code. These include design-centered, user-centered approaches; an approach emphasizing the material history of computer art; an approach linking concepts in coding to issues in philosophy and theory; an approach that drew inspiration from Dada, and required students only build useless programs; an effort to reduce reliance on computer science terminology in favor of concepts and terms drawn from across the arts and humanities (drawing on the Classical philosophical concept of an ideal, immaterial precondition for the exististance of a thing, a “class” becomes an “arche”).

I believe this would make a keen workshop, with members of various disciplines helping to sketch the outline of a new computer language, which we'd then build (in a very simple fashion) in real time. But if you are interested in this at all, I defer to your judgment as to proper format.


Thursday May 12, 2016 11:45am - 12:45pm
COOR L1-88 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR L1-88

Attendees (10)