Creative Coding for Absolute Beginners – 2020

Mark Sample pointing to code on a projected image.

This year, Price Lab’s week-long digital humanities training institute Dream Lab was canceled due to safety concerns around COVID-19. We created this series of podcasts not as a replacement, but rather to introduce you to some of the people who make Dream Lab such a great experience!

Programming is notoriously goal-oriented: if there is a problem you work to solve it. Creative coding is different. Rather than look for a solution, creative coding asks, what happens if coding is a tool to explore and play. In this episode, Dr. Mark Sample discusses his approach to creative coding. Hint- it includes twitter bots and Walt Whitman!
This episode was produced and edited by Maria Kiamesso DaSilva with assistance from Sarah Milinski.

Course Description:
Over the course of this week, we’ll explore different dimensions of creative coding, including glitching, procedural remixing, generative storytelling, and games. Most programming is goal-oriented, tasked with solving a problem or optimizing a solution. Creative coding is different. Rather than asking how do we do x?, creative coding asks, what happens if we do x, or y, or this crazy z thing over here? In other words, how can we use code to screw around, and what can screwing around tell us about the cultural practices and productions we study in the humanities? Students will work with JavaScript, Tracery, Twine, and other platforms for creative coding. No programming experience is required. No experience is in fact preferred!

Dr. Mark Sample is an Associate Professor of Digital Studies at Davidson College. Mark’s teaching and research focuses on experimental literature, digital media, and algorithmic culture. His examination of the representation of torture in videogames appeared in Game Studies, and his critique of the digital humanities’ approach to contemporary literature is a chapter in Debates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota Press). He is also co-author of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 (MIT Press), a collaboratively written book about creative computing and the Commodore 64. Mark’s creative coding experiences encompasses poetic remixes of American literature such as House of Leaves of Grass, procedural disasters such as Don’t Drink the Water, experiments with interactive fiction using Twine and Inform 7, and a host of Twitter bots, including the popular MobyDickatSea.