[Humanist] 27.424 visualising programming

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Oct 11 09:10:44 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 424.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 10:55:19 +0000
        From: Susan Ford <susan.ford at anu.edu.au>
        Subject: RE:  27.398 confluence of ideas in 1936
        In-Reply-To: <20131003060358.7639F3A3E at digitalhumanities.org>

Hi Willard

Thanks for the reference to Gandy’s paper on 1936 confluence of ideas. 

Since you mentioned Fortran in a conversation about understanding code,  I am reminded of Donald Alcock’s wonderful ‘Illustrating Fortran’ (Cambridge University Press, 1982).  Not only is it hand-written so neatly as to make it easier to read than a computer-generated typeface, the layout on the page is so designed as to provide code examples and their explanation in the same place.  I attach a snippet (from page 40) for people who haven’t seen Alcock’s work.   What digital humanities practitioners need is better documentation, as another contributor commented.  But programmers don’t do good documentation and nor, it seems, does anyone else.  Though the Web is a perfect space for annotated code there is not much out there.  The visualisation I am thinking of would use the graphic space of a Web page a la Alcock’s pre-Web books rather than lots of hyperlinks - the human brain does not need lots of jumps and blinks to comprehend complexity - just a good field of view.  

PhD candidate, Classics, Australian National University

[Note: Alcock's book is listed by Amazon, where you can get a peek at his method. --WM]

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