Programming – Conceptual/Non-Conceptual

My Loom blog entries consider the relation between the labour of programming and the labour of program execution. While it would seem natural that the conceptual space of programming utterly determines the mechanical space of execution, my aim has been to question this hierarchical view. As I have suggested, programming only attains conceptual shape in terms of the underlying mechanisms of code operation. The programmer must learn to think as a machine proceeds – that is, in terms of the latter’s strict patterns and blind motion. It becomes hard then to precisely designate the character of the conceptual work of programming. Does its abstract logic suggest a properly human space of conceptual priority, or does it represent a passage beyond the human – a dialogue with the autonomous necessity of operation? I would argue that programming – and the close relation between writing, compilation and running that it entails – fosters a new, uncertain relation between the regimes of conceptual logic and mechanical operation. The programmer seeks not only to choreograph and determine computational processes but also, at the same time, to engage with an uncanny space of mechanical alienation, in which the concept is recognised but as an executable, non-reflective phenomenon.

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