response to How Object Orientation Made Computers a Medium

As promised, this was not an easy read — maybe easier to some than to me. I’ve always found the concept of programming languages completely mind-boggling, the same way that thinking about how humans invented linguistic tools like prepositions hurts my brain. It doesn’t fully make sense to me that with enough programming languages, you can make some binary code deep into your laptop’s core turn into a bouncing ball on a screen — yet every Wednesday evening we do something like that in class. It’s a little bonkers.

Even though I don’t fully understanding how programming languages work, this chapter helped give me a greater appreciation of their depth and complexity; it helped demystify part of the process. I struggled to understand just how OOP differed from other paradigms (or rather, how did those paradigms work exactly, beyond just calculating numbers). I tried to think of how I could code something from my p5js sketches in a different language, or how something like my Twitter feed would look like without classes of objects. From my limited understanding, OOP creates (partly or fully, I’m not exactly sure) consistency and repetition, which are hallmarks of good design; each tweet on my feed has to look the same for me to understand them as equals or part of a logical group, for example. I think this consistency is what Alt means as the ultimate cause for our understanding of computers to shift into “media” — suddenly there is structure and pattern, framing the content I see on the screen; I can interpret it as something specific, the same way I would interpret small printed text on a thin foldable rectangular piece of paper as a news article (back when I read those in print, anyway). Maybe tools become media once they can hold and render new information that can be interpreted beyond what is simply relevant to the physical object itself.

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