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Aesthetic Computing Maniesto

May 10th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I only recently stumbled on the Aesthetic Computing Manifesto but I think it is quite important. Aesthetic computing, they say is “the application of art theory and practice to computing. ” They go on to say:

” We wish to strike a balance between cognitive and material aesthetics. Software as written in text or drawn with flow-charting may be considered elegant. But that is not to say that the software could not be rephrased or represented given more advanced media technologies that are available to us today, as compared with when printing was first developed. Such representation need not compromise the goals of abstraction, which is a necessary but not sufficient condition for mathematics and computing, as meaning, comprehension, and motivation may be enhanced if the presentation is guided by a pluralism of aesthetic choices and multiple sensory modalities. ”

Now lets widen this to how we use computing for learning. We have focused for far too long on the written text with other forms of expression being seen essentially as illustrative or additional to the written form. We have failed to develop learning interfaces which allow people to express themselves in forms and ways not only aesthetically natural to themselves but in forms which reflect the nature of the learning being undertaken. Why should a craft apprentice be expected to reflect on their work in writing. How much more natural to use the media of  that craft itself to reflect on their learning. And as the manifesto says “recently, substantial progress has been made in areas such as software and information visualization to enable formal structures to be comprehended and experienced by larger and more diverse populations”

Much food for thought.

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