[Humanist] 26.144 aesthetic computing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jul 10 22:50:54 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 144.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2012 16:56:23 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.136 aesthetic computing
        In-Reply-To: <20120709202810.AC2F6284A4B at woodward.joyent.us>

Wendell's and Daniel's recent posts on aesthetic computing were
illuminating, thank you.  I think Wendell equivocates a bit when he says
that "we talk in code all of the time."  As Daniel points out, there's a
substantial difference between "code" in the sense of "jargon" and
programming code.  When I said that we would need to learn to speak in
code, I was making a point similar to Daniel's: in order to judge the
aesthetics of programming code, we need to learn to program.  But I was
actually making a claim beyond that.

Programmers, similarly, in order to talk about the asethetics of
programming code, need to learn the field of aesthetics.  Kant's Critique
of Judgment is just one good source among many.  Any good anthology on
aesthetics would be very helpful.  We should keep in mind that while of
course programming is a very different kind of code than "natural" language
(there is no such thing as natural language), the range of human aesthetic
experiences are not necessarily unique to a single kind of artistic
product.  At the least, we would have to learn to speak intelligently about
other kinds of aesthetic experiences before we could compare those to the
aesthetics of programming.

It may not hurt to forget that many humanists are not unfamiliar with
coding, perhaps most commonly very simple kinds such as HTML.  I'm trying
to advocate that learning one programming language be added as a general
education requirement at my institution, and I tell all of my students to
try to do so anyhow, especially the English majors.

Jim R

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