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Fri 19 - Fri 26 October 2012 Tucson, Arizona, United States

Richard's Pretty Good Talks

unexpected talks by interesting people

RPG is my micro-conference. RPG is sporadically held, suddenly announced, and leaves little but mental limps and frustration / aka instability—take it as step #1 toward getting you decanalized. I choose the speakers and I don't care what you think; I choose the topics and I always choose first loves. I want people telling me about things they cherish / not about how they make their living. Here's what I've got going this year for the second edition.

  • Peter Turchi / fiction writer / on The Pleasures of Difficulty & Other Observations on (the) Design (of Fiction)
  • Robert Biddle and James Noble / on Notes on Post-Post-Modern-Modern Programming

Pete Turchi: He engaged us with his keynote at OOPSLA 2007, and he's back to talk about the sequel to the work that talk was about. Pete was the director of the MFA Program for Writers when and where I got my MFA in the late 1990s. He since has moved to Arizona where he teaches at Arizona State University, and where he is Director of Creative Writing. Pete sez:

We each have our own sense of the difficulty we've chosen—or the difficulty we've been offered, or the difficulty we somehow find ourselves confronting. There's no point in pretending that every moment of engaging that difficulty will be a joy. But our deepest pleasures as artists (and, I suspect, as programmers) result not only from surmounting, but from continuously engaging with the difficulties that represent our greatest ambition.

In this talk I'll explore how puzzles, mysteries, math problems, difficulties, obsession, mazes, magic, and stuff like that inform how we think about writing stories, novels, and poems—and your job as listeners is to connect that to creating software.

Robert Biddle and James Noble: In 2002 at Onward! they surprised us with Notes on Post-Modern Programming. This year that paper won the first Onward! Most Notable Paper Award—an award given by Onward!. This unexpected presentation by at least Robert Biddle will tell us stuff like this, according to the abstract Robert wrote:

The ultimate goal of all computer science is the program. In the beginning, so our myths and stories tell us, the programmer created the program from the eternal nothingness of the void. These notes have the status of letters written to ourselves: we wrote them down because, without doing so, we found ourselves making up new arguments over and over again.

In 2002 at the first OOPSLA Onward! track, James Noble and Robert Biddle presented a paper entitled "Notes on Postmodern Programming." The paper was a both a paean, a homage to the love of programming and its lore, but also a mocking attack. One common question was whether the paper was serious or a joke? It was both, and that was the agenda. In following years, similar papers were presented, with diminishing impact: the shock of the new wears off. In this 2012 retrospective, we revisit some of the propositions made in the early papers, and attempt to re-experience the shock. Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, but we'll remember with advantages what feats we did that day.

At Splash 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Idea

Spreading Ideas in Many Fields