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Is Programming Art?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the painting-a-good-program dept.

Programming 462

chromatic writes "A constant question for software developers is 'What is the nature of programming?' Is it art or science? Does creativity or engineering lead the design and implementation of a program? John Littler talked to several well-known and well-respected programmers (including Guido van Rossum, Andy Hunt, Bjarne Stroustrup, Paul Graham, and Richard Stallman) to find their answers; he shares their thoughts and his own in Art and Computer Programming." From the article: "What the heck is art anyway, at least as most people understand it? What do people mean when they say 'art'? A straw poll showed a fair degree of consensus--art is craft plus a special degree of inspiration. This pretty much explains immediately why only art students and art critics at a certain sort of paper favor conceptual art. Conceptual art, of course, often lacks a craft component as people usually understand the term."

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Not a fine art (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989346)

I think Richard Stallman put it quite nicely:

"I would describe programming as a craft, which is a kind of art, but not a fine art. Craft means making useful objects with perhaps decorative touches. Fine art means making things purely for their beauty."

When you have to take functionality into account, it often kills the artistic side of the creation.

Re:Not a fine art (5, Insightful)

SIGALRM (784769) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989375)

Since programming is an art, we ought to be able to classify types of programmers. Here is a start;

The Picasso programmer: As a whole the system works, but each piece is a warped view of reality.

The Jackson Pollack programmer: Throws code at the system, trying to see what works.

The Georges Seurat programmer: When you step back from the system, you can see the overall pattern, but close up each piece is totally distinct from all of the others. (Actually, this is a pretty good description of OO design).

The Michalangelo programmer: Has a grand, sweeping view of what the system should do, but each piece is done in such meticulous detail that it takes years to finish anything.

Re:Not a fine art (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989465)

Unfortunately, most software on the market seems to have been written by the "Dogs Playing Poker" programmers.

Re:Not a fine art (5, Funny)

squidfood (149212) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989575)

Unfortunately, most software on the market seems to have been written by the "Dogs Playing Poker" programmers.

And there's a market for that. Hence, Visual Basic.

Re:Not a fine art (5, Insightful)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989389)

When you have to take functionality into account, it often kills the artistic side of the creation.

That would mean that architecture, furniture design, etc lacks in the artistic side? I dont think this is the case at all - giving something functionality doesnt remove the artistic side, they complement each other and are not mutualy exclusive.

Re:Functionality? (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989535)

Don't you mean, marketing?

Re:Not a fine art (4, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989472)

> I think Richard Stallman put it quite nicely:
> "I would describe programming as a craft, which is a kind of art, but not a fine art. Craft means making useful objects with perhaps decorative touches. Fine art means making things purely for their beauty."
> When you have to take functionality into account, it often kills the artistic side of the creation.

Depends on the code. Depends on the art.

I'd consider every entrant into contests like the IOOOC (or obfuscated-your-language-of-choice), to be art. I'd consider any esoteric computer language (a whole line of 'em including INTERCAL, Brainf*ck, Ook, and so on) to be art for art's sake.

But as for functionality "killing" the artistic side of the equation -- sometimes the most functional things are the most beautiful. Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston-Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, XB-70 Valkyrie, SR-71 Blackbird, Concorde. Very functional machines, designed to perform very different functions, for very different people. And all very beautiful.

Re:Not a fine art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989561)

I would argue that functionality has historically been a major part of many great works of art - it's just that the criteria of functionality differs. For instance, when one considers illuminated manuscripts or the sistine chapel, the underlying function was to bring the viewer (in addition to the artist and/or patron) closer to the subject, in this case, presumably their version of god. I think there's always been room for function in fine art, whether it be a personal release (heartbreaker songs to pollack-art - although whether pollack's stuff was fine art or not is up for debate...), and would venture to say the impetus of most art could be redefined as a valid function.

(declare sub Mahabharata)

I think programmers must be artistic to be great, but it is not a necessity.

You fail it yet again Zonk (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989349)

I truly enjoy my new life as a whore. My husband CmdrTaco has a collection of
over 150 tapes of me with other men. He has sold copies of several of them.
There's a couple of tapes that get the most requests and they are also the ones
of the times I enjoyed best. One of the most popular tapes was made when I was
gang fucked by six men. One of Cowboy Kneal's friends was supposed to come over to
the house to fuck me. He showed up with four other men, all black, and they
asked if they could all be taken that night! I told my husband that there was
no way I could fuck six, big, black men all in one night! CmdrTaco told the men
that I would only take two of them but the rest could watch and make an
appointment for some other time. The men agreed and cut a deck of cards to
settle who would screw me and who would watch.

The two men who won the draw for for me paid my husband $200, each, and
seemed very anxious to get started. They flipped a coin to see who would fuck
me first. Cliff, a tall, heavy man, won the coin toss. I told him we could
go to the bedroom and get started. I was wearing only my bra and panties and
asked Cliff if he wanted to undress me or if he wanted me to strip for him.
He didn't say a word when he came up to me and put his large hands on my bra
covered tits. He squeezed my jugs for a few moments before unclasping my bra
and pulling it off. After feeling my boobs and flicking the nipples with his
index finger, he stripped naked. I looked down at the black man's stiff cock.
It was large, like other black men's that I've fucked and it was as black as

Cliff's hands went back to my tits. I held his cock with one hand and
smoothed my fingers over the large cockhead with the other. He kissed me
intensely for the next few minutes and then said, "Yeah, let's get to it baby!"
The other five men standing around (six including my husband who was taping
us), watched in silence while I peeled my panties off. I stood naked in front
of everyone and said, "I can't wait to get that fat black cock in my pussy!" I
started to get in bed when Cliff stopped me with, "Let's do it on the floor,
baby. I can fuck a lot better down on the floor."

I winked at the tall, black man and said, "You going to fuck me from
behind, with your big black cock, Cliff?" He stared at my naked cunt,
answering, "Yeah, baby! In back of your white ass! I'm ready to slide this
black snake into that big white pussy of yours.!" I kept my eyes trained on
Cliff's buddies as I kneeled on the floor and then went down on my forearms.
My cunt was easily accessible from behind my ass and I knew all who were
watching had a clear view of it. My tits hung to the floor, tickled by the
shag carpet. When Cliff kneeled behind me, I asked, "Oh, Cliff, honey? Lick
my pussy a little before you fuck me. Please, please lick my cunt, Cliff!" He
lowered his head under my ass and I felt his tongue slide along the parting of
my cunt lips. I arched my back to raise my ass even higher. Cliff's probing
tongue managed to part my pussy lips and penetrate into my musky fuck hole. He
went back to his kneeling position and I heard the other men saying "Man! Look
at that pussy!" and "It's so big and fucking wet, man!" and "Yeah! She's ready
for fuckin' OK!"

When the black man's cockhead pressed at the opening to my cunt I peered
over to the men watching and said, "Ooo! Yeah! He's gonna' fuck me now! With
his big, black cock, he's gonna fuck my wet cunt, now! I love being watched
while I get fucked!" Cliff gripped my ass and slid his hard dick into my
waiting cunt. I moaned the entire time he fucked me! The angle that he had to
my cunt, caused the top side of his long meat to glide along the parted cheeks
of my ass. I could feel his cunt juice coated cock slipping along my asshole
as he drove his dick up my twat.

Soon, Cliff was fucking me for all he was worth. In and out, in and out,
in and out, at a steady pace. When he came, he pulled my ass tight against
his abdomen and pumped loads of white hot sperm into me. I had already had
several orgasms and screamed with a fantastic climax of my own. After the black
man removed his cock, I rolled over onto my back and panted, "Ummmm!, Oooo!
Yes, Cliff, yes. You fucked me so good, Cliff!" The guy who Cliff had lost
the coin toss to, was already taking his clothes off and said, "Yeah! My turn
now! I'm gonna' get me some of that sloppy white cunt! She's gonna go out of
her fuckin' mind when I get through fuckin' her!"

The second man's name was Hemos and he couldn't wait for me to clean Cliff's
cum out of my cunt. Hemos was a rather fat black man. His dick didn't seem
quite as long as Cliff's but it was bigger around, like a coke bottle! He got
between my open legs, held my ankles up and apart, and worked his fat meat
into my just fucked cunt. I didn't even have time to catch my breath from
Cliff's screwing when Hemos started humping into me! He fucked me for several
minutes before spewing his hot semen in me, to mix with what Cliff had
deposited. I had several more intense climaxes while Hemos's cock twitched in my

Well, I had been totally fucked by too big, black studs with enormous black
cocks. I was ready for a shower and a drink, but as I stood up I saw the other
four black men, who had watched Cliff and Hemos fuck me, taking off their
clothes! I said, "What are you guys doing!? I told you I wasn't going to
screw more than two of you tonight!" One of the men looked at my husband and
said, "I just can't wait, man! Watching your old lady fuckin' Cliff and Hemos
here, I got to fuck that pussy now!" Another big man said, "Yeah, I'm fucking
that cunt next!" Still another said, "No way, man! She's gettin' my old black
bone next!"

CmdrTaco knew that he couldn't control the men and what they were about to do
so he said, "Look, guys, let's make a deal, here. My wife will take the four
of you at the same time and it'll be for the price of one. How 'bout it?" All
four men, still staring at my naked body, nodded and moved toward me. It was
awesome, watching the four straight, black cocks coming at me! I knew I had to
take some kind of control so I said, "Ok. Ok! Three of you sit on the edge of
the bed, next to each other. The other get behind me. I kneeled down between
the legs of the man in the middle, his huge black hardon throbbing in front of
my mouth. I took the cock's of the men on either side of him in my hands. I
felt the man behind me rubbing my ass, smearing all the cum that had leaked
from my cunt.

I looked at the three men on my bed and turned to look at the one feeling
my ass. I said, "OK, let's go!" I began jacking off the dicks I was holding
and lowered my mouth over the cock pointing in my face. As I deep throated the
cock in my mouth, and jerked on the hardons in my hands, I felt a finger slide
up my pussy. I tilted my ass to make it more vulnerable and the finger started
fucking in and out of my cunt. I was gasping for air through my flaring
nostrils and moaning on the meat in my throat! Then the finger in my cunt hole
slipped out and wiped up my ass crack. I felt it push at asshole and then slip
into it! I continued to suck on the one guy's cock and jack off the other two
while being finger fucked in the ass.

I was getting into steady cock sucking and dick stroking when the finger in
my ass pulled out. I moaned painfully for the man to continue fingering my
asshole. I was going crazy with an approaching orgasm and needed more
stimulation at my ass and cunt. Then I felt two hands on my but cheeks and the
man's big black cock poised at my asshole. He was going to fuck my ass and
there wasn't anything I could do! The man I was sucking off, was holding my
head and the men I was beating off, had my tits clenched in their hands.

The large, black hardon pushed at my brown hole and the head squeezed into
my ass. I shook with a tremendous climax and heard the man behind me say, "Oh,
yeah! This smooth, white ass is so hot on my black dick! You like it in the
ass don't you, lady?! Yeah! You like it!" I tried to scream on the cock
filling my mouth but only managed a ,"Eeeeeee!" The big shaft pushed further
up my ass and it didn't stop entering until I felt the man's large balls
against my cunt. I began to loose my concentration on the three other cocks
but forced myself to continue bobbing my head and pumping my wrists.

The man in my ass started fucking in and out of it while digging his
fingers into my fleshy ass cheeks. I felt all the cum that had been dumped in
my cunt, squeeze out of me and flow down my inner thigh. I'd never been ass
fucked like that before! The strong, black man was slamming his hot fuck stick
into my ass until his balls smacked against my cunt! The man I was cocksucking
jolted and shot a stream of sperm down my throat. Before I could swallow it
all, I gaged and half of the thick hot spunk came running out of my nose. I
pulled off the squirting dick, choking and gasping for air. More hot jism
splattered onto my face and neck. I was having another electrifying orgasm and
pushed back to meet the cock thrusts into my ass. When I looked and the two
men I was jacking off, my face covered with cum, I squeezed their hardons and
jerked as fast as I could. Both men fired their loads in the air. Some of the
blasts landed in my hair, some on my arms, and some down on my legs. I
released the cocks from my grip put my hands on the floor. I heard the man in
my ass grunt and then yell, "Here it comes, lady! Yeah! I'm gonna' come in you
ass, bitch!" I felt his hot sperm jet into my bowels and it just kept coming
and coming! When he finally pulled out of me I laid on the carpet and panted.
My husband was still taping me and said, "Shit, Jeana! You've never been
fucked like that before! This is the best tape we've made yet!" I was covered
with the black men's cum and had it in my cunt and ass too! I'll never forget
that experience! Never!

Re:You fail it yet again Zonk (1)

montreal!hahahahah (880120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989398)

If this is true, I feel bad for Mr. Taco!

No (0, Flamebait)

Stides (461262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989350)


Yes (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989376)


Maybe (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989393)


Re:No (0, Redundant)

abradsn (542213) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989390)


fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989351)


Both! (4, Interesting)

ssimontis (739660) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989353)

I'd say it is mostly science by nature, but you can make it into an art. You can make just about anything into an art with enough creativity. I can see how you might think it could be an art without doing anything special, but I feel it is a lot more technical.

Re:Both! (2, Insightful)

Triggnus (738288) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989435)

I agree. I feel that even the most menial chore can be done artistically. And there is a certain "art" to making code elegant and functional. The same applies to math, science and other highly techical things.

Drivel (2, Insightful)

bgog (564818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989356)

What a load of pseudo-intellectual drivel. Coders do what they must to get the job done. Some because it's a job and some because they love it.

It's like a janitor contemplating whether a clean hall is art. Why not spend your time examining better methods of developing portable/maintainable code or something. I mean really, let's say you get your answer. "It is art" or "It isn't art", what has been accomplished other than the ability to puff up about what you do?

This is no different than a bunch of tools contemplating what makes them l337.

BTW I'm not arguing for or against whether it is art. I strike only on the sillyness of the question.

Re:Drivel (0, Flamebait)

bgog (564818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989387)

How odd. I write seriously and call out the uselessness of the question and I get a troll? Am I missing the meaning of troll? Flaimbait perhaps. Bahh

Re:Drivel (1)

abradsn (542213) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989414)

What can you do? Sometimes the truth hurts so much that people will call you a troll. :)

Re:Drivel (4, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989396)

If coders *only* do what they must to get the job done, then how do you explain Perl poetry [] , for example? What about Perl golf?

How about things like quines, or programs that are valid and working programs in more than one language at once?

Aren't these things art? If not, why not? A programming language is, per se, just a tool - just like a brush. You can use brushes to simply coat things with paint, and there are many people who do just that for a living; but you can also use them to create art. The same goes for programming languages, doesn't it?

Re:Drivel (2, Insightful)

bgog (564818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989521)

Ok it's art. My point is that it's a question and classification that serves no useful purpose. I wasn't arguing that it isn't art.

Re:Drivel (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989397)

It's like a janitor contemplating whether a clean hall is art.

More like an author contemplating what he does is art. I've often thought writing a book and programming are excedingly similar.

"It is art" or "It isn't art", what has been accomplished other than the ability to puff up about what you do?

You get to put the subject under the Art Dept or Math dept at the university. Which is a major thing. My local school treats comp sci as a subset of math, so to get the BS, you have to do ungodly amounts of math that will likely never see real world use.

Would things be different under an art dept? Probably not, but I know how bad it is under the Math dept, it might be interesting to see the other way.

Personally, as far as colleges go, I'd rather see comp sci under it's own flag. Still a science, but without external influences that muck it up.

Re:Drivel (4, Insightful)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989481)

What should problem happen is a split.

Have to programs, "Comp Sci", which would remain what is is, and "Programming" which would focus much more on "real world" issues. Think of it kinda like Physics vs Engineering.

Re:Drivel (1)

bgog (564818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989502)

Good point. I agree comp sci should be it's own catagory. However if it was in the art dept you'd be able to make the same complaint that you had to do a bunch of sculpting that wouldn't see real world use. :)

Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989503)

Computer Science *is* a branch of mathematics. If you skip the mathematics, you're not a computer *scientist* -- you're just a code monkey.

Knuth (-1, Troll)

iMaple (769378) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989357)

Knuth Do we need to go any further.

Well... (5, Funny)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989360)

Programmers do meet one of the requirements that you have to meet to be considered an artist: They make no money.

2 more actualy (2, Insightful)

dnamaners (770001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989473)

B.) Like artists there appear to be quite a number of programmers that insist on making true crap and calling it "programing", while only a few make truly good programs.

C.) and like art many people seem to actively pursue the work of some of these programmers and place high values on their works. However, they do so with little regard as to weather the works belong to the "crap" or the "skilled" categories.

Re:Well... (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989513)

That's funny, I'm a programmer and I make more than 90% of America. You need to find a new employer, friend.

Emotion? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989373)

For me, art must express some level of emotion. Good art communicates that which cannot be said.

While Windows sometimes makes me cry, to what degree does programming convey emotion?

Re:Emotion? (2, Insightful)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989449)

Good art communicates that which cannot be said.

So a book of poems or prose can never be good art?

Re:Emotion? (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989488)

I've looked at code before now and found it beautifully elegant. Ditto mathematics for that matter.

It's engineering (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989374)

Same as usual, a bridge can be beautiful to look at, beautiful in how it copes with it's load etc, same as code, it's just people don't like looking at code as engineering for some reason.

Re:It's engineering (1)

Stibidor (874526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989514)

It's both a science and an art. The science of computer programming dictates that there is at least one optimal way of solving a problem that can be solved algorithmically. Sometimes the one optimal way is actually the only way. Sometimes there are many optimal solutions and it's the artist in us that decides which optimal solution to choose.

There may be many ways to build a bridge, but the artistic civil engineer will choose something cool. :)

Re:It's engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989533)

it's just people don't like looking at code as engineering for some reason.
The reason for is that the term 'programming' has been overloaded too much. Hacking together a perl script to produce some HTML is to 'Programming', as throwing a log across a stream is to 'Bridge Engineering'.

Re:It's engineering (5, Interesting)

BenJeremy (181303) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989544)

Well, to some degree, engineering can be art.

Consider great works of architecture... certainly, the simple task of building a bridge, or some building can result in the most straight-forward, brute-force application of a solution, but the results would not be as elegant or noteworthy.

Similarly, code can be kludged to hell, lacking any elegance and as a result, impossible to enhance or even maintain... or a software engineer could architect a system that is elegant and even mostly reusable (or even better build such a system out of a large library of code already written).

Unfortunately, the difference is lost amongst probably 80% of the "programmers"
out there, who have more of an attitude of "get 'r done" and "if it ain't broke...". We talk about patterns, algorithms, processes to developing solid applications and systems, but end up dealing with managers or clients who couldn't give a rat's ass about it until a quality audit is announced.

I know a handful of very talented engineers who can design "on the fly" - elegant design work, and as a bonus, they know the engineering side, as well. Put the two together, the SCIENCE of applying basic engineering principles, along with the ART of intuitively understanding the best flow of an application, and you've got solid code.

To put it another way, I've seen guys who know the process side of software engineering inside and out - but couldn't code their way out of a paper bag, and certainly cannot architect a real software system. They know the science, but lack the artistry (i.e the creative thinking).

Similar: Is an essay art? (4, Insightful)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989382)

If a well-composed essay is a form of art... I would have to say an efficient program is certainly a form of art.

You just have to remember the appeal of art of this sort is MUCH smaller... you need to understand it to really enjoy it... and unlike abstract art or modern art (where very few understand it and very many say they do) ... you have very few who understand it... and not a lot of people who care a lick about it.

So, yes, it is an art form... for a very small subset of the population.

My two cents, anyway...

Re:Similar: Is an essay art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989422)

I'd liken programming more to authoring a book. Surely all programmers hit writer's block from time to time. There are also the times when code just flows from your fingertips like (insert appropriate metaphor here).

dental arts (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989383)

Anyone see dental groups calling their business 'dental arts'? I am not sure I want someone doing a picasso with my teeth.

Re:dental arts (1)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989485)

Yes, look at porcelain crowns. The basic ones are nothing but an aluminum shell. The expensive ones are individually carved down to the smallest detail (the individual grooves on your tooth).

Don't forget reconstructive surgery either.

What is art? (2, Informative)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989384)

In days gone bye, even science was considered an art form, but nowadays it's all science and the only artists left seem to be the people who once were musicians.

If Britney Spears can be referred to as an artist then gees, there's enough computer porn out there for programming to qualify as an art.

Re:What is art? (3, Funny)

postgrep (803732) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989441)

My perl code looks way sexier than Britanny Spears, how come IT didn't win one of the 50th sexiest people?

The Perfect Slashdot Story (4, Insightful)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989395)

Load up the cannons -- here's the perfect slashdot story: programming art or science?
That's like a story that's titled, "Chocolate Ice Cream, better than Vanilla?"
Art is subjective. If you believe that some part of science is subjective as well, then you understand that there is no easy answer to the question posed. If you think science has no subjectivity, then welcome to the food fight!

Quality: It's a Numbers Game []

No, it's a craft (3, Insightful)

Linus Torvaalds (876626) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989401)

Art is aesthetic, not useful. While you can use those aesthetics for a useful purpose (e.g. selling it to people who appreciate those aesthetics), that doesn't mean it's intrinsically useful.

Programming is a craft. It is useful, which distinguishes it from art. A certain sense of aesthetics, skill and experience is necessary to program effectively, which distinguishes it from merely being a profession.

Re:No, it's a craft (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989524)

Which raises the interesting question, if you plumbed in Duchamp's "Fountain" would it stop being art?

Good programming is an artform (1)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989402)

Not necessarily from any asthetic virtue, but it takes a skill and mindset beyond following a simple set of rules. Whether or not it has any higher value beyond that, is for philosphy majors to decide... and since they don't take those kind of classes, we'll never know for sure.

CS is science. Design is art (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989403)

Computer science- the concepts of bits and bytes and memory addresses is a science. There is a right and wrong answer for pretty much everything. Its researchable and falsifiable.

The design of a computer program is an art. There is no defined standard for what is or is not good design, its not falsifiable. And its not something that can be taught by rote in a college course. Picking the right design for your specifications and requirements is an art, and one that too few people really understand.

When will people realize.. (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989407)

Computer science is something completely different from the norm. It's almost surreal. I think it should be classified in a realm all by itself. You can make some incredibly dense scientific code, and yet also at the same time, the code can be quite poetic -- artistic even.

Not to mention the possibilities that computing offers us - I don't think of it merely as science nor merely as an art - to me it's both.

When will people realize.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989531)

Computer science is something just like everything else. Seriously, get over yourself, you aren't that special. (And our generation isn't special for knowing about computers. Teenagers thought they were smarter than their parents/teachers long before they had computers.)

Now, computer science is an immature field, and has a long way to go. That means it has some challenges to go through as it develops. It also has a different front-end than other fields, sure. There are plenty of differences, but the basic challenges are the same in any design field, and writing programs is a design field. You have some requirements, some tools, some limitations, and you have to find the best way to make them all work together. You have a boss that doesn't understand exactly what you are doing. You have a customer that doesn't know what they want. You are trying to do something that has never been done before, but is based on something that has. Welcome to real life in most professions.

Other than that, I agree with you. A good design is a work of art, at least to those skilled enough to see it. Architects seek to make a building practical but beautiful. A mechanical clock can be amazing to watch. A well-written program is like poetry to read.

I think the first goal of any designer is to get the basics working so that they are in a position to work on the beauty of their design. Too often we are put in an awkward position and it's all we can do to make something that works, screw looking good.

This is not ART (1)

GothicX (839689) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989408)

Don't believe in art, believe in hard work =)

Asked and answered by Jin Wicked (1)

katana (122232) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989409)

Does no one remember the notorious k5 story [] ? Contains such gems as "Do you consider your copy of Windows 2000 to be art?" and "The difference between my examples of paint-by-number and coding, is that the individuals assembling models or paint-by-numbers do not do this as a livelihood. They are under no delusions about their occupation or hobbies."

Is ditch digging an art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989412)

As a life long ditch digger I would tend to agree. Clearly I use a great deal of creativity in my work. I change the way I hold my shovel, the attack, the lift, the throw, and the recovery based on conditions. This does not take into account my stance and body position.

(because I trolled my old acct into oblivion)

Of course it is ... (2, Insightful)

YankeeInExile (577704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989413)

... there was no question in my mind. And, tying to another thread some months ago, it is what differentiates the mere coder from the true hacker. To draw an analogy to the painter: On the one hand you have Hank the Housepainter, and on the other hand you have Michelangelo. They both apply paint to surfaces, and as good a housepainter as Hank ever becomes, he will never be an artist.

Similarly, designing a complex system looks to an outsider like merely writing one line of code after another. It is only when you step back and see how the lines of code merge into a subroutine, and subroutines coalesce into cogent modules, and these modules get connected together to become a useful system that you can see the art. One square centimeter of yellow paint is not art, that square in the middle of one piece in a series of paintings on a theme is.

There are a lot more housepainters than artists. There are a lot more coders than there are hackers.

Re:Of course it is ... (1)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989516)

... designing a complex system looks to an outsider like merely writing one line of code after another. It is only when you step back and see how the lines of code merge into a subroutine, and subroutines coalesce into cogent modules, and these modules get connected together to become a useful system that you can see the art.
I think this highlights an important difference when talking about whether programming is an art, a craft, or a science. Specifically, it depends on your point of view.

In your quote you say, "It is only when you step back and see how the lines of code merge...." Only someone with understanding of the code is going to "see" anything. I may be able to appreciate how well you've constructed an algorithm to solve a problem, but my wife certainly won't. It either does the job she wants or it doesn't. Art critics can appreciate all kinds of stuff portrayed as art, but I certainly won't. I hang things on my wall that I like -- it works, for me. I don't "see how the colors merge to form a pony" (or whatever).

When knowledge of a domain is necessary before you can "appreciate" it, I don't think it's really "art." But perhaps we all of have a connotative view of the word that's shading our perceptions.

Mathematical Eloquence (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989418)

Mathematics (physics):

K = mc^2 ( [1 / sqrt(1 - v^2/c^2)] - 1 )


assume 'i' is a c-array
assume 'a' is a positive integer

i[a] == *(i+ a) == *(a + i) == a[i]


Why do you thing it's called a language?

Where is Shirley Maclaine when you need her? (1)

tzuriel (855916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989420)

Someone I didn't attempt to contact but whose words live on is Albert Einstein.

Should have tried channeling. []

is Painting an art? (1)

TiVoRobin (462535) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989421)

Art is about the intention, if you create code for the purpose of expressing yourself and creating a thing of beauty, then it is art. If you write code for calculating insurance rates becasue it is your job, this is not art. Asking is programming art is like asking "is painting art?", an art school student will tell you that painting is art, a house painter will tell you it is not.

No. (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989425)

Why diminish programming by comparing it to art? Art is easy. Art is boring. Anyone can make art. Artists are a dime a dozen.

No, it's fucking not you pretentious faggots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989426)

This has already been decided in court, you jerkoffs. STFU about it already!

Code as art. (2, Interesting)

kesuki (321456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989428) []

Now that code, is art. Most code is just craft, but to make a working perl program, that is an ascii-art of a camel, that is True Art..

Art is as Art does (4, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989431)

There's just no one big bucket called "programming." To the extent that one's code interacts with, or communicates to a user, there's ample room for an artful implementation. Especially when the code's purpose is, through that interaction, to inform or pursuade. Yes, that's getting into "content" rather that programming, but the line between those is very, very fuzzy, especially in web development.

That being said, I think there's a certain intrinsic beauty to the way that I indent my subroutines.

If prhramming is art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989434)

Then anything that someone creates can be considered art, like engineering drawings, for example.

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989450)

If it doesn't make someone angry, then it's not art. If you write programs that regularly fill some people w/ rage (and others w/ delight), then you're an artist.

If you accept my definition of art, then DVD Jon is an artist. Bram whatshisface is an artist.

The Recurring Three Words (2, Insightful)

Quirk (36086) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989457)

Rigor []

from wikipedia:
"Mathematical rigour is often cited as a kind of gold standard for mathematical proof. It has a history, being traced back to Greek mathematics, where it is said to have been invented. Complete rigour, it is often said, became available in mathematics at the start of the twentieth century. This relies on the axiomatic method, and the subsequent development of pure mathematics under the axiomatic umbrella. With the aid of computers, it is possible to check proofs mechanically; throwing the possible flaws back onto machine errors that are considered unlikely events. Indeed, mathematical rigour may be defined as amenability to algorithmic checking of correctness. Formal rigour is the introduction of high degrees of completeness by means of a formal language. Most mathematical arguments are presented as prototypes of formally rigorous proofs, on the grounds that too much formality may in fact obscure what is being said."

Robustness []

from wikipedia:
"In computing terms, robustness is reliability or being available seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Robustness is an important characterists of the internet because network design is a key factor in the availability of data."
This also can translate into portability.


from wikipedia:
"The proof of a mathematical theorem is considered elegant if it is surprisingly simple yet effective and constructive; similarly, a computer program or algorithm is elegant if it uses a small amount of intuitive code to great effect."

Euclidean Geometry was long thought to demonstrate all three qualities. If one wants to attribute art to elegance then programming can be said to be art.

I object! (1)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989460)

The line between Art and Science is very blurred. Science can be and Art and Art a Science. Programming can be either, or both, or neither. Given this, please, disclose your assumptions and pose the question again.

On the question of art (2, Interesting)

Haiku 4 U (580059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989466)

Art is decided
by only one person. It's
who makes, or wants, art.

Art is about communication (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989469)

I'm inclined to think that programming- or at least the vast majority of programming- is craft rather than art. The essential difference is that art is itended as a form of communication with others, while craft is primarily functional. In programming, the functional necessity of the job at hand tends to overwhelm the expression of the programmer.

yes, its art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989471)

I have seen VERY technically capable educated software engineers that can't program to save their life.

People that can do the equivalent of draw stick figures do a lot of gruntwork programming, then theres the true artists which do high end graphical programming, and write things like databases etc.

Programming is not Art, unless... (1)

cioxx (456323) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989474)

Unless if said programming is done with a help of a Brillo(TM) box.

When it comes to art... (2, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989480)

Keep in mind that for every Monet, there's half a dozen Thomas Kincaides.

Bill Budge's poetry in named variables (2, Interesting)

RobotWisdom (25776) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989482)

Bill Budge is not a well-remembered name, because his heyday was the Apple ][ era, and his masterwork was Pinball Construction Set (8-bit object oriented GUI).

But he did a couple of 6502 tutorials in an Apple magazine just before it went bankrupt (Softalk?), and the way he defined variables struck me as exactly like poetry-- he seemed to have meditated on the deep meaning long enough that he knew how to create exactly the right variables, and name them the right names.

define "programming (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989483)

If by "programming" you mean getting a computer to do what you want it to, then no, programming is simple "code monkey" work.

If "programming" includes designing what it is exactly that you want the computer to do in the first place (a.k.a. "design"), then programming becomes

Re:define "programming (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989527)

In a form with a "submit" and a "preview" button, "submit" should not be the default.

(Ugly art?)

Difficult to say (1)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989490)

House paint is when properly applied can be pleasing to the eye, but it's primary purpose is to extend the life of the material it covers. No one would consider it an art. You can make the comparison that code is like the paint in a portrait, but in reality all code is functional. Well written code is just a bonus for others that have to look at it later. Much like a well painted home.

It's not art (3, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989493)

A constant question for software developers is 'What is the nature of programming?' Is it art or science?

Maybe I am a strange software developer, but these are not the questions going on through my mind at night. Maybe "how can I improve the design" or "what does the customer really want from this product" but usually it's "how can I get that cute girl back to my place". Seriously though, these people have too much time on their hands. I didn't RTFA, so it may be brilliant. But programming is definitely a science. The thing is, that as programmers, we can recognize beauty in the design and implementation of a program. In that sense, to us, it can be beautiful. We might say the programmer is so good that he is an artist. But this is true in any field. We have someone install our networks and truly, he is an artist. He takes the spaghetti of thousands of cables and makes it so neat and logical it would make an artist weep. But is it art? No...that's a stupid question.

Re:It's not art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989605)

Maybe I am a strange software developer
No, not strange, merely a bourgeois code slinger.

Groan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989504)

Is cooking an art or a science? Is playing music an art or a science?

Art is not the inverse of science. They are two conceptual planes that intersect at several points. I'm getting very tired of the lazy either/or mentality that permeates thinking these days. It is very simplistic and very limiting.

"Programming" is not an art, but hacking ... (2, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989505)

Hacking is an art. When some coder develops something in visual basic because he has been told too do so by his boss, and he gives a given ammount of work hours to finish it as fast as he can, it's usually not art. But when J.R. Hacker writes something in C & Asm just to see if he can actually do it, it's art, because of the motivations for developing the software, the hacker will try to make it as best as possible, and the reason to write many parts of the software will be to make it beatyful and elegant, not only in it's code, but while it runs, The same happends with any more conventional form of art, for example: Some teapot produced at a factory, where they will try to produce as many as possible, all equal, that ain't art, but if someone puts all it's effort into making a hand-make teapot, then it will be art.

Depends on how you do it (1)

sbenj (843008) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989511)

At it's best, absoloutely, in the sense that it can exercise your creativity and imagination to the utmost. Anyone who's really put in the time can attest to the joy of those deep aha moments. This is no different than the "art" in abstract math or other purely intellectual disciplines, although the future use (or lack thereof ) of your beautiful creation is often a letdown.

I had a (physics) professor once who was trying to give me advice when I was, in college, moving from physics to music, who told me that he'd faced a similar choice and the only difference he saw was that "he didn't have to play scales every day".

I think that those of us who toil in the corporate software fields also know that there's a wide gulf between those who are interested in their craft for its own sake (an interest which I would argue leads to excercising the craft as an art) and those who, basically, are menatlly working in a sauasage factory and couldn't give a crap. There are valid arguments to be made as to whether or not the art of it is for the sake of the client(s) or the programmer's vanity. In the end I think if I'm going to spend 8 hours a day doing something I'd much prefer to be creating something worth appreciating.

Is it an art? Only if you want it to be.

define "programming" (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989512)

If by "programming" you mean getting a computer to do what you want it to, then no, programming is simple "code monkey" work.

If "programming" includes designing what it is exactly that you want the computer to do in the first place (a.k.a. "design"), then programming becomes a form of art. It is "problem solving" with such a large number of possible solutions that it takes a certain amount of inspiration to come to the best answer.

depends on your language (2, Interesting)

The Pim (140414) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989520)

One of the responants, Erik de Castro Lopo:
Programming OTOH is tightly restrained by what our programming languages actually allow us to do.
Hmm, I wonder what programming languages he uses? Oh: "coauthor of C for Linux Programming in 21 Days". I prefer to use languages that don't tightly restrain me, and can be more creative that way.

I don't want to overstate the point--artistry is found in all forms of programming--but I think it's telling that the advocates of higher-level languages in the interview are more inclined to see programming as art.

Yes (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989523)

Programs are brought into being solely by the will and creativity of the author.

They enrich our lives in that computer programs can do things that people may find either useful or entertaining.

Computer programming is art. No question.

It used to be! (2, Interesting)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989528)

Back in the day when "computer programmers" had degrees in mathematics and not "information systems", it was art.

Then the dot-com thing happened, and nobody differentiates someone with a mathematics or engineering degree and some kid with a "certification". The result? Lousy software for everyone!

That's why I left the field.

Aesthetics (1)

Stalyn (662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989538)

I tend to think anything that is creatively inspired is a form of art. This ranges from the sciences and the non-sciences. Beauty is derived from creative inspiration. Some us see beauty in equations and others see it in paintings. The idea that you can create an absolute measure which determines art goes against what being creative is.

Master of Fine Arts in Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989540)

Also don't forget Richard Gabriel's eloquent call for offering the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Software Design: []

Art or Engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989542)

Every programmer thinks that they are an artist. They want the freedoms of an artist.

But they wish that the other programmers they work with would behave like Engineers instead of artists for once.

Seems to me like the question art or science is handled nicely by the golden rule: "code unto others as you would have them code unto you"

Programmers come from vastly different backgrounds (3, Insightful)

5n3ak3rp1mp (305814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989547)

People who come to enjoy programming, in my experience, come from all sorts of backgrounds. I have met coders who were formerly big into music, or poetry, or photography, etc. I myself was a psych major (albeit a CS minor), which might explain my interface-nazi tendencies with regards to UI design ;) I couldn't be a CS major because I kept messing up ::cough:: flunking ::cough:: my "weedout" engineering calc classes (which were a CS requirement at my school), but in hindsight, I liked being able to take lots of electives. So, although I would be at a loss to create a new useful compression algorithm, and am probably not the BEST programmer out there, i really like to design and develop nice code/nice backend database schemas, that result in something that someone thinks is kickass.

Unlike a lot of coder geeks I know, though, I got A's in advanced english classes, AND art classes ;) So I can actually document my own stuff pretty well, and I've been client-facing for a while so I know how to write courteous emails with lots of e-business-speak... ;)

My boss at my former job used to play football and now codes. Can you imagine?!?! Football! While I spent summers geeking out, he was learning what a button-hook was. The horror. lol. (i pretty much have zero interest in sports. it seems like a lot of pointy-haired types do, though. oh well, to each his own)

Meanwhile, the two coders I know who I used to secretly idolize because they actually WERE cs majors, got tired of coding and are now both getting MBA's (which seems like a boring thing to do, were I to do it). Their complaint was that coders get shit on at corporate jobs, and they were just tired of the whole design/code/test/deploy/debug/support cycle.

Screw 'em, they also liked football ;)

I know what they're talking about in the former case of feeling taken-advantage of (not to mention that I am TIRED, TIRED of working with Microsoft-only technology, from an ideological/stuck-in-the-Microsoft-bubble standpoint!), and my solution to that is probably going to happen soon. Take my savings, quit my corporate job (which has done nothing for my technical development lately) and code freelance for a while. Wish me luck (I'm a little nervous), I have a few ideas and I'll be starting by diving headfirst into Ruby/Rails and seeing where that takes me ;)

Perhaps I'll never be a millionaire (or perhaps I will), but building stuff (the craft of it, and the type of creativity required at times) that someone else thinks is cool really floats my boat.

Who cares what programming "is", as long as people stop frickin' stereotyping us. The only thing that all programmers have in common, is that they program. The rest of it, like the difficulty in dating the opposite sex, is just positive correlation ;)

I'm a graphic designer... (1)

CarlJagt (877688) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989554)

...and I won't even shake that can'o'worms labelled "Is graphic design art?"

Until we obliterate, culturally speaking, the shrines of art (today the gallery, yesteryear the Church) nothing outside of them can be said to be art. They can only be said to be artistic. Over the years I've choked down enough "art" to realize I don't like the taste of self-awarding, self-revolving, self-aggrandizing stuff. Going to a gallery to learn about art these days is like watching the Emmy Awards to learn what TV is all about. Meh.

So as it relates to "non-art" things in life, let's be glad that programming is programming and not art; that a 22 minute sitcom is a 22 minute sitcom and not art; etc. Still, being artistic in these pursuits can set them apart from the mundane.

Just don't make anything "art" any more. Make things artistic. People will appreciate it more.

My definition of art. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989555)

To me, if a piece of work creates a desired emotional response in the part of some of the viewers- then it is art.

So I do not see code as art. I like stallman's view of it as a craft.

However, I think people are saying it in the sense of "more art than science" which means that you can do it in a nifty way which is elegant, smaller, tighter- or in a "machine" way which gets the job done but is ugly, repetative, less efficient but maybe easier to maintain or generate.

In this sense, coding will always have the art aspect. The question is- are people willing to pay for artful code. Remember the assem screen saver a couple years ago that took 93k (yes- K). it was art.

In a word, "yes" (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989566)

"'What is the nature of programming?' Is it art or science? Does creativity or engineering lead the design and implementation of a program? "


Programming is not art and certainly not science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989571)

I would say programming is a floor wax that sometimes doubles as a dessert topping.

more than the sum of its parts (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989580)

When answering that question, one has to apply it to already-defined modes of Art.

For instance, does a nice brushstroke in a painting count as Art? No. It may be considered masterful, but it is not in itself Art. In the same way, a clever line of code is not itself Art.

So, then Art is more than the sum of its parts. While someone's code may be sublime in its composition, but it is only when you take the sum of that code (and therefore, also the execution of that code) can you determine the worth of the author's craft (his or her code).

So, I would posit that a running program may be Art (and within the evaluation of that program, the elegance of the code would certainly be noted), evaluating the code as separate from its function and place in our reality is not Art, but instead is simply a craft. Because Art is only Art when it has a relevance to humanity (or whatever species created it).

A computer programmer isn't an artist ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12989583)



1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.

2. a) The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
b)The study of these activities.
c)The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.

3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.

4. A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.

5. A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.

6. a)A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
b)A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.

7. a) Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
b) Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).

8. a)arts Artful devices, stratagems, and tricks
b)Artful contrivance; cunning.

9. Printing. Illustrative material.


Under articles 6&7 you could make an argument that computer programming is 'an art' but this isn't what most people think of when they think of 'art'. Most people think of art as something like:

"A skillful delivery of a creative message through a medium"

Now using that definition you could say that computer programming could be used to create art (as in an interactive art display, fractal art, or Videogames) but for the most part the programming itself isn't the art. An odd way to think about this is to consider a welder; a welder isn't an artist but an artist could be a welder. So you could say that A computer programmer isn't an artist but an artist could be a computer programmer

Since when art and science are seperable entities? (1)

presarioD (771260) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989584)

Free your mind from duality and the dilemma magically disappears!

... but then there will be no article and no lots of feel good fanfare ... hmmmmmmmm

programming is like architecture (2, Insightful)

edwinolson (116413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989586)

I believe that computer programming is like brick-and-mortar architecture.

The vast majority of buildings are just buildings. But every once in a while, a building is a work of art.

One of the things I like about architecture (and computer programming) is that the buildings always serve a purpose. They don't arise out of the ether to express a purely abstract thought, but arise from the need to create something useful.

But don't delude yourself by thinking that you're an artist just because you're a computer programmer. The vast majority of buildings are cinder-block, minimum-cost affairs, and the same is true for code.

The Art of Computer Programming (1)

NFLFan (878402) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989588)

Donald Knuth named his books which study algorithms in great detail The Art of Computer Programming. So even though I usually want to sway to the other side I would say programming is an art!

let the users decide (1)

mincognito (839071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989591)

Deciding whether a program is art should be determined by the user, not the programmer. From the perspective of the programmer, of course programming is an art, in the sense of a craft. But just because a craft requires creativity does not make the products of that craft works of art. Otherwise most everything would be art (the word "art" loses its meaning). "Art" is a verdict not a process. A number of video games have had an "artistic effect" on me. That is, at some level they changed how i see the real world.

programming and music (1)

chemistry (876982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989592)

I liken programming too being a musician. Both are very hard in the beggining but with a little practice one can learn to play simple songs and even impress friends in music. Same in programming. Dig a little deeper (ok a lot deeper) into the world of music and one is aquainted with the word "improvisation". It is at this point that a musician transforms into an artist. So it is with the coder. After a few years a sort of intuitivness takes over and the coder can easily see how to get from point A to point B. The real difference is that code is used in real world settings. It is ok for the improving jazz musician to make a mistake. However, the code for a rocket launch must work right the first time. To that end you need to adhere to strong engineering principles ( for real world projects). But I almost always prefer to code up a quick solution to test my ideas as opposed to drawng a bunch of UML. Not to say that I don't do a significant amount of pen and paper design for large projects. But I usually like to "improvise" my way through the code...heck I just plain enjoy the creative process. Sometimes these first drafts are excellent and sometimes a rm *.cpp comes in handy. So I guess my opinion is that you can program with out being an artist just as a musician can play a song without being an artist...but to be really good at either one you have to have a certain amount of art.

What would Mozart have thought? (4, Insightful)

blackhedd (412389) | more than 9 years ago | (#12989604)

Mozart considered composition a craft. So did Bach, who regularly turned out a new cantata most weeks for his job at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The notion that artists have special access to some emotional content not available to ordinary craftsmen is a nineteenth-century idea. But everyone agrees that both Mozart and Bach had access to some pretty unusual stuff- we hear it and respond to it.
The content of programming is perhaps too instrumental (i.e., interesting for its usefulness more than its inherent qualities) to rise to the level of art. But this may be changing with the state-of-the-art games. In a hundred years, people may look back at today's game developers as the inventors of a new art form!
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