TITLE: "Algorithm" is not a Postmodern Concept AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 08, 2016 4:27 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Ken Perlin's The Romantic View of Programming opens:
I was attending a panel recently on the topic of new media art that seemed to be culturally split. There were panelists who were talking about abstract concepts like "algorithm" as though these were arcane postmodern terms, full of mysterious power and potential menace.
I encounter this sort of thinking around my own campus. Not everyone needs to learn a lot about computer science, but it would be nice if we could at least alleviate this misunderstanding. An algorithm is not a magic incantation, even when its implementation seems to perform magic. For most people, as for Perlin, an algorithm is ultimately a means toward a goal. The article closes with the most important implication of the author's romantic view of programming: "And if some software tool you need doesn't exist, you build it." That can be as true for a new media artist as it is for a run-of-the-mill programmer like me. -----