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Colloquium – Nick Montfort
January 21, 2015 @ 9:50 am - 11:30 am
Associate professor of digital media
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Exploratory Programming: Thinking with Computation
ABSTRACT: One caricature of programming is that it is a completely instrumental process of producing some computational artifact based on a specification.
This can be an effective mode for producing, for instance, banking systems, but when people undertake intellectual work with computers —
scientific work, artistic creation, inquiry into the nature of texts, or the exploration of computation itself — they usually adopt a different
approach to programming. Using computation as a way of thinking about important questions does not mean implementing a specification, and the
programming needed in such a case cannot be outsourced. With reference to the book I am completing for MIT Press, Exploratory Programming for the
Arts and Humanities, and to my own practice as a programmer of computational art and poetry, I will discuss how teaching and encouraging
this style of programming can have benefits across the academy and beyond.
BIO: Nick Montfort develops computational art and poetry and has participated in dozens of writing collaborations. He is the principal of the naming firm Nomnym, is on the MIT faculty, and serves as a director of the Electronic Literature Organization. Montfort wrote the books of poems #! and Riddle & Bind, co-wrote 2002: A Palindrome Story, and developed more than forty digital projects. The MIT Press has published four of his collaborative and individual books: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, and 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, with Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities coming soon.