Published June 18, 2024 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Making Space for Algorithmic Alphabets

  • 1. ROR icon Then Try This
  • 2. Dynamicland


Over the past few decades, the development of technology has largely focussed on controlling
people's work, rather than helping them control their own craft and expression (Franklin 1999).
Furthermore in computer science, due to a variety of social and societal factors, programming
languages have generally been designed for and by particular groups of people (Ko 2021). As a result,
technology cultures have moved towards homogeneity around particular mindsets. Perhaps then we
need to undo computer science, in order to find a way forward based on different assumptions. 1
Indeed, many have worked on making alternative programming languages and practices, and
creating space for alternative cultures to grow around them. Examples can be found across computer
art (Brown et al. 2009), live coding (Blackwell et al. 2022) and esolang 2 communities, where we see a
common theme of questioning the pervasive constraints of technology, in the process of developing

Through this talk we build on this theme, by examining code and its notation as a pivotal means of
computational expression, and introducing our concrete early experiments in how it might be
reimagined to support a much wider diversity of cultures and communities. Our collaboration brings
together work from two non-profit, independent research labs; namely Dynamicland, build a
communal computer by bringing everyday material to life via its Realtalk system (Victor, Iannini, and
Douglas 2023), and Then Try This, aiming to learn from heritage technologies to inform the design of
new creative and collaborative technology within the developing Algorithmic Pattern research theme
(Mclean 2020). Both contexts put communities of practice very much in focus in the development of
technologies, creating space for people to collectively reimagine the future, by building on a long
history of tangible, collaborative and hands-on craft and thinking practices



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Additional details


Algorithmic Pattern MR/V025260/1
UK Research and Innovation