Sunday, September 19, 2004

Performing code

Hacking Perl in Nightclubs
by Alex Mclean

I've found the experiences of dancing and programming to have a great deal in common. With both I am immersed in an abstract world of animated structures, building up and breaking down many times before finally reaching a conclusion. Indeed, when the operation of even the dullest data-munging computer program is visualized, for example in a debugger, it does seem to be dancing around its loops and conditions -- moving in patterns through time.

In other words, a musical score is a kind of source code, and a musical performance is a kind of running program. When you play from a musical score or run a program you are bringing instructions to life.

So a piece of composed music is like a Perl script, but let's not forget improvised music. The rules behind improvised music -- for example improvised jazz -- develop during a performance, perhaps with little or no predefined plan. Where is the comparison with code here? Well, how many times have you sat down to write some Perl without first deciding exactly how you were going to structure it? Perl is great for improvising. The question is, can you write improvised Perl scripts on stage?

Wonderful. Thanks Andrew!

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Chromaticism and Jazz

The performativity of code: software and cultures of circulation (pdf) and Java™: how Internet programming practically imagines virtuality (pdf) by Adrian Mackenzie

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