The Poetics and Politics of Code

Have you ever tried to code?

It’s quite a clever mode.

With letters, numbers, and symbols…

Ok, so this isn’t actually a poem about coding – even if that was an awful attempt – but yes, you read the title right, I said the words poetics and code in the same sentence.

Ironically, for this week’s lectures, I forgot my notebook and had to make all of my notes on my iPaIMG_1256d (to my distaste). In turn, becoming part of the digital revolution. Although, that might be a slight exaggeration on my behalf. 

The real focus of the lecture was to discuss is code poetic or aesthetic.

(Yes, I found this piece of gold in Oxfam books on Botanic Street.)

According to Catherine Hale’s studies and this week’s lessons, our culture is in decline due to the consequences of the digital age we are in. Shaking this off as an insult, ironically around 99% of the lecture hall raised their hands when asked who owned an Instagram account. Guilty as charged. Hence, proving this so-called ‘appeal’ for  the visual and removal of the written world and transition into a ‘Digital world and age.’

Although, a filtered image or two may actually be appealing to the avid reader, looking at an HTML page was a whole different story. (If you ask me, it was like going to the opticians for another eye test.) Again, focusing on the aesthetics and politics, we were led down a different path. Is code a magical language? In a way, we discovered that it can be. In a way, it conjures an action into being.

Looking at the discourse of code, we also wondered does code communicate. Or is seen as something instructional instead? Code facilitates as a language of freedom, versatility, and openness. This language, however, is also facilitated by instructions that are hidden from the user, but also instructions that are generally incomprehensible to the user.

Looking at a standard web page, we are able to right-click and view a source, but then are we able to communicate with it, whilst understanding it? Through this, a potted history can be revealed. A history of argument and debates about what should constitute computer rendered discourse.

This ‘history’ is exactly what constitutes our privacy, but as Mark Zuckerberg states: Privacy is over. We have discovered that a world of literature is full of selfhood and that privacy is no longer relevant. Instead, we use things like google every day where the consumer becomes the product as third parties try to sell us everything and anything from our search history. Again, enabling the user experience in this digital era.

Looking at the politics, code inevitably argues that we move towards audible literature. That we are living in a code constructed universe. Instead of reading simple words, we are actually reading code in translation, through looking at Facebook or buying products online.

As part of this week’s lessons, we completed a coding session where we attempted to make our own little web page. As I count myself a bit of an anti-digital whiz, this sounded a bit daunting but during the lesson I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting the whole process was and how unaware I was off the process that went into any online document. Without realising it, we are reading code every day completely oblivious. This is perhaps a sentence no English student ever thought they would hear. It is part of every piece of electronic literature and website that we come across. Although it might not come across as an obvious ‘language,’ I do believe it shouldn’t be taken for granted and once again it is interesting to see how far we have come, in this day and age, in producing various forms of fiction or literature.

 

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