Some thoughts on the School for Poetic Computation Open House

Posted Tuesday evening, Dec. 9, 2014

I was feeling rather grumpy today but was feeling better coming back home because I was high off the inspiration I got from the SFPC Open House!

Since going to their first event (an open house I think…), I've only had a vague notion of what the school was about [1].

I’ve had the following ideas of what they were doing over at SFPC:

After actually experiencing some of the students' projects firsthand, my sense of what the school is all about is only slightly clearer but maybe some ambiguity is a good thing. [2]

Some projects that intrigued me:

I think places like SFPC are great! The work and discussions coming out of SFPC are a refreshing break from the narratives coming out of Silicon Valley (DISRUPTION FOR $$$, products that people don’t really need, obliviousness and tone-deafness to the needs and desires of people who aren't upper middle class cis-white-males).

It's worthwhile, and I would argue, critical for us to question, poke and prod at technology (and in ways that won’t necessarily make us money); to distill the essence of the thing or to expand the capabilities and expressivness of code, past its initial goals. If we don't, I think we're more likely to blindly buy into whatever Silicon Valley is trying to sell us.

I also think it's cool to use technology to express something. As a developer, I focus a lot on the programming/code itself and how I can use it to create a product, etc. I focus on things like workflows, debuggers, perf stats. Experiencing more liberal-artsy uses of software and hardware helps me take off my developer hat and put on my human being hat.

Notes

[1]: I like this quote from Taeyoon Choi (from the Critical Theory of Technology zine) "We think computation is poetic when technology is used for critical thinking and aesthetic inquiry - a space where logic meets electricity (hardware), math meets language (software) and analytical thinking meets creative experimentationb"

[2]: read more about the SFPC's mission here.

[3]: Here's a link to past projects, if you’re curious.