aesthetics in software engineering is not about the program, it’s about the programmer.

the aesthetics of clarity in executable source code

“experientialism” / experiential realism

questions of clarity vs. simplicity (how often do they correspond? oppose?) - is one within time, or within space, or within people?

semantics? -> programming languages have semantics (either denotational or operational, stratchey) -> operational is whatever the machine says, and we can realize/describe/use a symbol without understanding it -> understanding the symbol vs. understanding what the symbol refers to.

there is always a bit of giving up the understanding (linux kernel, APIs, etc.). does it remove the essence or in contrary highlight it?


but tactics could actually be the tip of the manifestation of a yet unknown (the personal?) strategy.

aesthetics as a relationship to the human: if tactics is what makes the individual, strategy is what forces the group > as code matures, there is a switch to a different kind of individuality (mass-production of code)




object (object of code’s discourse)


“efficient code” depends on knowing the material that you are working with: in the 1970s, it was the compiler (kernighan, elements of programming style). in the 2000s, it might be just the language spec.

code as substitute-material


Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance (statement, question, or command); the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus. It may otherwise reflect other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or by choice of vocabulary.* (wiki)

can source code support multiple readings? should it?$$

however, ideally source code has no depth: it is what it does > but hidden depths have to do with the nature/function of the work and the social field in which it exists “What it means for something to have “depth” is that its explanation requires bringing in something like that, something of a different nature, something that does a kind of work no additional detail ever could.” perceivable (but still hidden) vs. shown looking harder vs. looking differently

Some colleagues (such as Thomas Kühne from Victoria University of Wellington) have taken this further to explicitly define the limited properties of any model. Kühne (2005) describesthis in three ways:mapping–(i.e. acknowledging that models are projections of an orig-inal);reduction–(i.e. acknowledging that models only represent a selection of relevantproperties of the original); andpragmatics–(i.e. acknowledging that any model isaccepted as a proxy for the original only for a specific purpose).

style as managing ambivalent attachments to big social forms > mcgurl, d.a. miller

problematiques importantes: dispositifs et mediations

DRY is actually a problem: humans understand if you repeat them over and over. how do you compromise that?


concepts / frames


acknowledgment of socio-cultural context within which code poetry emerges, then formal examination of language through which these are written, and circling back towards what these formal uses have to contribute about the purpose/meaning of writing source code poetry (communities, hackers, exploitative economic systems, etc.), and allow for a new perspective on contemporary literature.

art is a breach in the system

pat Is there something that makes something inherently beautiful? As relations to humans/human condition of that time -studying tools.

speed run vs. 100% of the game vs. elegant gaming

which aesthetic standards are set by the machine vs. which aesthetic standards are set by human social context?

does each type of software have different aesthetic standards?

what is the aesthetic of a semantic system that is supposed to be understood by both humans and machines?

beautiful proofs in geometry?

how beautiful code defines its own beauty?


the programming languages - esolangs have a “wimpmode”

turing paper 1936: the first instance of source code makes the explicit distinctions about layout of binary (“this is less easy to follow…”). can be a good starting example of the importance of form.


what is the difference between poetics and aesthetics? poetics put together an effect (formal, subjective) vs. aesthetics are more universal, inherent, contemplative? solved

the role of case studies: develop an outline from looking at code, then confront that outline (which will probably be multifaceted) with case studies (2-3) solved

how is the aesthetic value of source code different from the aesthetic value of digital art? irrelevant