We like tight pants and mathematics

I have given a workshop at the Master Networked Media at the Piet Zwart institute, Rotterdam. One of the few master courses that runs on free and open source software , and the surrounding culture of sharing and hacking. The workshop is called:

I like tight pants and mathematics.
Queering up programming culture.

To give programming a productive place in your arts and design practice, you need to get to know programming culture, and, ideally, take part in (re)shaping it. To feel comfortable with being a programmer, you might want to change what a programmer is. With queering up I am not referring to homosexuality, but rather to an approach that undermines existing masculine, heteronormative ideals. An historical example would be Glam rock’s appropriation of the traditional ‘œearnest’ masculine rock musician into the polysexual identity mirror palace created by musicians as David Bowie and Freddy Mercury.

I am planning a longer write up, but for now you might be interested in the lecture notes .


but I thought being a geek was cool nowadays... :(

also: the word "programmer" sounds dull. Why not opt for "developer" or "software engineer" or "coder" or or even "hacker". "programmer" makes me think of old men fiddling with tickertape in front of a roomsized mainframe.

tickertape in front of a roomsized mainframe sounds incredibly sexy

These stereotypes about programming (or development) as an introverted, male, ‘“geeky’ endeavor are by themselves o.k. and being male and introverted is no problem either, but if they’re the only stereotypes held by either the outside world or within the programming world themselves, software development will keep self-selecting for introverted males and not attract the diverse group of practitioners it deserves!

I think that is more a result of the type of activity that programming is. If you compare it to other creative activities it requires a more of less autistic mindset where you focus very strongly on components that by themselves have very little meaning. The act of programming is mostly breaking down problems into logical components until the very end where everything comes together.

I think the thing most likely to change is the status of these "introverted geeks". With the success of The Social Network and The Big Bang Theory you'd almost think being a geek was fashionable.

Rolf, thanks for your points this is the kind of discussion I am hoping for! 1) There is no reason to be essentialistic about the autistic nature of programming—since there is no one essence of programming.The kind of activity that is denoted by programming varies hugely: writing a statically typed program is already quite different from writing a program in a dynamic programming language… as new languages and methods evolve what programming is changes also 2) the status of the boys from big bang theory and mark z. has certainly been raised. Cool for them. But in this case we’re still excluding girls and ‘“non-geeky’ types from programming! And I want to open up programming for them (me) too!

well, programming itself i think is pretty geeky and theres no reason girls can't be geeks or geeky (we need more girl geeks! they're amazing!). I think it's just that a lot of non-geeks have this fear of anything logical or mathematical in nature. They sort of assume that they won't get it and don't even try. I think it has a lot to do with the horror of highschool math and not wanting to have anything to do with that. I think that things will change more and more as more opportunities open up to do cool things with technology. Twenty years ago you'd have to be a total nerd to do any programming nowadays it's actually quite socially acceptable.


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