On the denotative nature of programming
This is just a quick post almost as a placeholder for further thinking. I was listening to the latest episode of Spark! on CBC Radio about Cracking the code of beauty to find the beauty of code. Vikram Chandra is a fiction author as well as a programmer and was talking about the difference between the two mediums.
It’s definitely worth a listen [MP3]
The thing that struck me was the (perhaps obvious) insight that when writing code you have to be as denotative as possible. That is to say ambiguity is a bad thing leading to imprecision, bugs, and hard-to-read code. That’s not the case with fiction, which relies on connotation.
This reminded me of a paper I wrote a couple of years ago with my thesis supervisor about a ‘continuum of ambiguity’. In it, we talk about the overlap between the denotative and connotative aspects of a word, term, or phrase being the...
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