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Old 03-10-2017, 10:16 PM   #1
zikzak
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The Art of Computer Programming

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Originally Posted by AllCowsEatGrass View Post
I'm sure most artists like what they do. On the subject of art, from your posts it appears that you are a programmer (correct me if I'm wrong). Many would argue, and I would tend to agree with, that programming is art. Would you agree with this?
This is an argument frequently put forth by people who have no idea what art is.
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Old 03-10-2017, 10:43 PM   #2
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Re: March LC Thread

Programming is only "art" because those that aren't good at it don't know how those who are good at it do what they do.
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Old 03-11-2017, 12:53 AM   #3
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Re: March LC Thread

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Originally Posted by zikzak View Post
This is an argument frequently put forth by people who have no idea what art is.

Yeah, I don't know what art is.

Sorry for my delay, I've been working on a song ...

Richard Stallman, the guy that wrote the GNU utilities for Linux and made GNU/Linux into a full fledged Operating System, apparently thinks programming is a type of art; a craft specifically.

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I would describe programming as a craft, which is a kind of art, but not a fine art. Craft means making useful objects with perhaps decorative touches. Fine art means making things purely for their beauty.

Programming in general is not fine art, but some entries in the obfuscated C contest may qualify. I saw one that could be read as a story in English or as a C program. For the English reading one had to ignore punctuation--for instance, the name Charlotte might appear as char *lotte.

(Once I was eating in Legal Sea Food and ordered arctic char. When it arrived, I looked for a signature, saw none, and complained to my friends, "This is an unsigned char. I wanted a signed char!" I would have complained to the waiter if I had thought he'd get the joke.)
http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2...artofprog.html


Edit: I wasn't aware of this person, or this work, but apparently a guy by the name of Donald Knuth not only thinks programming is an art form, but he's written a 4 volume set of books on the subject. And about this guy ...

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Donald E. Knuth is known throughout the world for his pioneering work on algorithms and programming techniques, for his invention of the TEX and METAFONT systems for computer typesetting, and for his prolific and influential writing (26 books, 161 papers). Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University, he currently devotes full time to the completion of his seminal multivolume series on classical computer science, begun in 1962 when he was a graduate student at California Institute of Technology. Professor Knuth is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the ACM Turing Award, the Medal of Science presented by President Carter, the AMS Steele Prize for expository writing, and, in November, 1996, the prestigious Kyoto Prize for advanced technology. He lives on the Stanford campus with his wife, Jill.
https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Prog...er+programming


But nah, let's just tell an artist who would tend to agree that programming is art that they have no idea what art is.


Last edited by AllCowsEatGrass; 03-11-2017 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 01:57 AM   #4
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Re: March LC Thread

I'm a programmer and programming is not art. It maybe can be if you try really hard but the default acts of a programmer in the course of writing code to solve a problem are absolutely 100% not art.
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Old 03-11-2017, 02:33 AM   #5
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Re: March LC Thread

Like most things, there are varying degrees of science, craftmanship, creativity, artistry, analytics, and engineering.

Then of course there is all of the considerations that come with what it means to be artistic.

To simply proclaim that programming is "not art" seems pretty incorrect from my view.
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Old 03-11-2017, 02:44 AM   #6
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Re: March LC Thread

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Originally Posted by goofyballer View Post
I'm a programmer and programming is not art. It maybe can be if you try really hard but the default acts of a programmer in the course of writing code to solve a problem are absolutely 100% not art.

This is 100% like, your opinion, man, and other programmers have different opinions. As evidenced by my previous post. Also worth mentioning is that you contradict yourself.


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programming is not art.
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It maybe can be
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:01 AM   #7
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Re: March LC Thread

Programming is art the way that making a burger is art. Sometimes chefs can do something crazy and new that you might consider art but most of the time they're just making a ****ing burger.
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:04 AM   #8
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Re: March LC Thread

I would say burgers that **** are quite crazy and new!
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:05 AM   #9
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Re: March LC Thread

That is a bit funny / coincidental because I was going to make a similar food as art comparison but taken in a different direction.

I think Darryl at Jimmy John's and Jose Andres may have different interpretations to the question 'Is preparing food art?'.
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:20 AM   #10
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Re: March LC Thread

Anthony Bourdain Kitchen Confidential:

"Cooking is a craft. There's nothing wrong with that: the great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsman -- though not designed by them. Practicing your craft in an expert fashion is noble, honorable, and satisfying. And I'll generally take the stand-up mercenary who takes pride in his professionalism over an artist any day. Artists: more often then not their efforts, convinced as they are of their own genius, are geared more to giving themselves a hard-on than satisfying the great majority of dinner customers. Personally I'd prefer to eat food that tastes good and is an honest reflection of its ingredients than a 3-foot-tall caprice constructed from lemon grass, lawn trimmings, coconuts and red curry."

Seems pretty true imo even in the pharmacy world. Very smart people who enjoy constructing unnecessarily fancy and elaborate plans of care are generally much less valuable than people that do an honest, straightforward job.
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:23 AM   #11
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Re: March LC Thread

It's a pointless argument because nobody can define art. That said, the problem with the idea of programming as a craft and therefore an art is that there is nobody out there - as far as I know - getting paid to write code simply because people find that code aesthetically pleasing. Like, we're all on board with architecture being art under some circumstances, but that doesn't mean that a guy who engineers building foundations is an artist, even though I'm sure if you're into it there are foundations that are more and less elegant and aesthetically pleasing.

But like I said, the problem is that art is a fuzzy concept that cannot be defined. If someone asked me if I was in good health, I would say "yes" despite the fact that I have an unrepaired complete ACL tear in my left leg and have had lower back pain for the past couple days. "Good health" is not a binary thing where one either possesses it or one doesn't, rather it's a concept that describes people to a greater or lesser extent, where one ticks some boxes and not others. Similarly, things exist on a sliding scale where they are either not at all artistic through to obviously and completely artistic, ticking off various sub-points like "is this something other people get aesthetic enjoyment from, is this something people invest a personal style into" etc. I think if I were forced to choose "art" or "not art" for programming it would be the latter, but the actual answer is that it ticks some boxes and not others.
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:35 AM   #12
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Re: March LC Thread

"After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well." - Albert Einstein
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Old 03-11-2017, 03:50 AM   #13
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Re: March LC Thread

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It's a pointless argument because nobody can define art. That said, the problem with the idea of programming as a craft and therefore an art is that there is nobody out there - as far as I know - getting paid to write code simply because people find that code aesthetically pleasing. Like, we're all on board with architecture being art under some circumstances, but that doesn't mean that a guy who engineers building foundations is an artist, even though I'm sure if you're into it there are foundations that are more and less elegant and aesthetically pleasing.

But like I said, the problem is that art is a fuzzy concept that cannot be defined. If someone asked me if I was in good health, I would say "yes" despite the fact that I have an unrepaired complete ACL tear in my left leg and have had lower back pain for the past couple days. "Good health" is not a binary thing where one either possesses it or one doesn't, rather it's a concept that describes people to a greater or lesser extent, where one ticks some boxes and not others. Similarly, things exist on a sliding scale where they are either not at all artistic through to obviously and completely artistic, ticking off various sub-points like "is this something other people get aesthetic enjoyment from, is this something people invest a personal style into" etc. I think if I were forced to choose "art" or "not art" for programming it would be the latter, but the actual answer is that it ticks some boxes and not others.

I think this is a pretty good post, and I tend to agree that art cannot be defined.

Your conclusion doesn't seem to logically follow your premise however. You began by stating that art cannot be defined, but yet you seem to try to define it in a way that pleasing aesthetics is a necessary component.

There are some very aesthetically unpleasing things in this world that are art. For instance, I think a lot of music found on the radio these days is not aesthetically pleasing. But what is aesthetically pleasing, or not pleasing, comes down to personal interpretation, and subjectivity, and I think ultimately what is or isn't art also comes down to personal interpretation and subjectivity.

Another issue with your post, which I still think is pretty good, is that code produces an output, much like food ingredients/cooking. So perhaps the code itself isn't aesthetically pleasing, but the final product could be. For instance, you could write a program that would draw geometric patterns on your screen, and the code itself might be hideous to look at, but the output might be beautiful.

But again, beauty is not necessary for something to be art imo. I actually think it would be pretty artistic to write a program like the one I described above that defies all the best practices of programming, but produces beautiful geometric shapes. Like the output would obviously be considered art, but the fact that hideous code produced it could be art too, imo.
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Old 03-11-2017, 04:13 AM   #14
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Re: March LC Thread

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I think this is a pretty good post, and I tend to agree that art cannot be defined.

Your conclusion doesn't seem to logically follow your premise however. You began by stating that art cannot be defined, but yet you seem to try to define it in a way that pleasing aesthetics is a necessary component.

There are some very aesthetically unpleasing things in this world that are art. For instance, I think a lot of music found on the radio these days is not aesthetically pleasing. But what is aesthetically pleasing, or not pleasing, comes down to personal interpretation, and subjectivity, and I think ultimately what is or isn't art also comes down to personal interpretation and subjectivity.

Another issue with your post, which I still think is pretty good, is that code produces an output, much like food ingredients/cooking. So perhaps the code itself isn't aesthetically pleasing, but the final product could be. For instance, you could write a program that would draw geometric patterns on your screen, and the code itself might be hideous to look at, but the output might be beautiful.

But again, beauty is not necessary for something to be art imo. I actually think it would be pretty artistic to write a program like the one I described above that defies all the best practices of programming, but produces beautiful geometric shapes. Like the output would obviously be considered art, but the fact that hideous code produced it could be art too, imo.
Yeah, rather than aesthetically pleasing I should have said art is something that imo is produced for the effect of "moving" another human being. Like, death metal is not aesthetically pleasing, but it has the purpose of producing some sort of "emotional" (very broadly defined) reaction in another person.

I think everyone would agree that's a pretty big checkmark in whether something is art or not. Sure, you could probably produce counterexamples, and not everyone would agree on how important this criterion is, it's more like my opinion that I hope proves persuasive to other people. It's kind of like "X is not in good health, they are an alcoholic" and someone can be like "well sure, they drink too much, but they're fine so far, no liver issues" and we've uncovered a disagreement on what "good health" is. So while "X is an alcoholic" will not lead to 100% of people concluding that X is not in good health, it's still a useful argument.

As far as code producing something artistic goes, I would disagree that that can make the code itself art. Cameras are not art just because they are the tool used to produce art, paint and canvas are not art just because they are a medium in which art happens. In the case of horrible code producing a beautiful result, that could be art, but the art there is the abstract idea rather than the code. Hair splitting I know, it's just what I think.
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Old 03-11-2017, 04:21 AM   #15
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Re: March LC Thread

Great post!

Two questions though

What if a photographer chose a certain camera, because they felt like the way it was designed, and the way it looked and felt, inspired (or emotionally moved) them to take better photographs? Similarly with painters, what if a painter chose a canvas that inspired them to make a certain painting, because of the shape of the canvas, or even the smell of it?
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Old 03-11-2017, 04:22 AM   #16
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Re: March LC Thread

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The process of preparing programs for a digital computer is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic experience much like composing poetry or music.
--Donald Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. I



Is motorcycle maintenance art?
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Old 03-11-2017, 04:33 AM   #17
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Re: March LC Thread

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Is motorcycle maintenance art?

I think somebody could make it art, yes. It's not outside the realm of possibility imo.
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Old 03-11-2017, 04:43 AM   #18
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Re: March LC Thread

Is a beautiful sunset art?
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:21 AM   #19
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Re: March LC Thread

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Is a beautiful sunset art?

You can paint a beautiful sunset, and that is art. You could write a poem about a beautiful sunset, and that is art. You could write a song about a beautiful sunset, and that is art. You could design a building to look like there is a sunset in the masonry, or even to be in a certain position on a certain day to emphasize the sunset, and that would be art imo.

A sunset itself, meaning the Earth rotating on its axis going into the cycle of night, is not art, because art is produced by humans. (arguably, other animals could produce art as well, such as a cat walking across a piano, or gorillas painting, or chimpanzees taking photographs)

To expand on my remarks on motorcycle maintenance, it could be made art by recording the sounds that are made in this process, and looping them into a cacophony of sounds. A musical genre was actually created by doing something similar to this; industrial.

Last edited by AllCowsEatGrass; 03-11-2017 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:25 AM   #20
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Re: March LC Thread

Funny how people who insist programming is art never bother to present examples.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:29 AM   #21
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Re: March LC Thread

Arts and crafts are not the same.

Anthony Burgess's definition of Art as something created by humans that attempts to explore/define the relationship between man and his environment/other people, was a good one.

Weaving a basket or writing a computer program (crafts) are clearly quite different.

Composing a piece of music is Art.
Playing it on an instrument is craft.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:06 AM   #22
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Re: March LC Thread

Programming isn't innately art. You can make art through programming. Painting isn't innately art (no picket fence is winning the Turner Prize), but you can make art through painting.

I think a lot of this debate stems from semantic fuzziness. When people say that something is 'an art', they typically mean that doing it well requires a skillset that includes intangible or ineffable elements that are difficult, if not impossible, to define, demonstrate, or teach. Possibly some people are confusing that with the idea that programming is an art form, which, yeah, no, it's not.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:30 AM   #23
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Re: March LC Thread

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How can there be such a thing as charity-based universal basic income?
Governments running UBI trials - zero
Charities running UBI trials - one

EDIT: I guess Finland has a UBI trial, but it's pretty lame.
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:04 AM   #24
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Re: March LC Thread

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Composing a piece of music is Art.
Playing it on an instrument is craft.
Pretty good example
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:36 AM   #25
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Re: March LC Thread

A far from from a perfect analogy:

composing music : playing an instrument :: designing algorithms : programming



Many people are saying art can include nearly any skill that has been highly mastered. For example a top chef.


Spoiler:
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