March 2021

from the previous doc

The immediate next aspect that I will be focusing on is therefore to highlight the aesthetic criteria which support two other communities of practice: hackers and artists.

the overarching point

aesthetics matter, even in such a highly formal, syntactical, autotelic system as a computer. they connect a surface-structure with a deep structure.

how does it contribute to the world? by showing that there is no separate domain of aesthetics, but also that they’re not essential, but a mark of high-quality and, again that they allow us to understand.

0 - main points

first i want to touch upon cursory work in source code poetry (paloque berges), and connect that to metaphor and literary tradition. then i want to talk about hacking (demoscene, folies, one-liners), and then connect that lack of aesthetic concern (qualify! different kinds of aesthetics) to the question of “what is there to understand” and therefore the question of semantics. i will close by exploring the different concepts in programming that are hard to communicate.


this is not so much about code aligning with standards of literature, but maybe aligning to the standards of both epistemology and architecture, architectural knowledge, and how literature could also align with these.

source code poems

short analysis of the scene

analysis of a poem

the place of metaphor

overall metaphor in lit

imagination and metaphor in code

mental structure / mental models

transition: metaphors as architecture of thought

the connection to architecture (and style/structure)

talk about general software architecture

connect with alexander’s pattersn

preliminary exploration of how well that concept would apply to different corpuses

transition: folies and hacking


beauty in inscrutability?

Hackers -> this redirects to the understanding of the machine (e.g. trying to reduce character counts for one-liners)

beautiful languages (PL theory/research)

short overview of programming languages

ADD what makes a good PL vs. what makes a good symbol system?

formal symbol systems

good part: fits with goodman

bad part: no meaning

semantics in PL

do PL have semantics? no.

where do those semantics come from? what do they need to represent


things that make programs complicated to understand

cognitive aesthetics

traditional ones

cognitive aspects

the MIT study on reading code:

The emphasis placed on the symbolic, cognitive, planning aspects of the arts leads us to give value to the role played by problem-solving, seeing there a model in terms of which the moment-to-moment artist’s behavior at work can be described. “An analysis of behavior as a sequence of problem- solving and planning activities seems to be most promising […]” (goodman)

double down on the coupling of lit and arch