The Structure of Recipes and Code, Solutions in Sharing Process

2010/09/18 § Leave a comment

Basically writing programming code is the same as writing down recipes. You take a list of ingredients and then do things with the list of stuff according to a method.

The word recipe comes from the Latin for “Take!”.

In cutting code this “Take!” is the declaration of functions and classes and what not. What we think of as the program, the heuristics of the algorithm, is the method of a recipe. When a program is compiled for a particular computer architecture, that’s the same as the cook adapting the recipe in their kitchen for a particular meal.

The difference between coding and cooking is that in a recipe the methods are rarely listed ahead of their use in the method, whereas in coding functions have to be declared and their definitions made, imported or written in-line.

The history of the structure of recipes is comprehensively covered in la structure de recette (don’t worry, it’s in English)(mostly). I really recommended it.

The early recipes were a random string of ingredients combined in a jerky flow of method, with little or no quantification of amounts, times or prep. They were more like hints for jogging the memory for people who already knew what they were doing. They weren’t for for learning, not for sharing, not for working together without shared assumptions.

Much like spaghetti code.

Now I’m pretty much a free-form cook and I take recipes with a grain of salt, if only because we never have everything in the recipe’s list in house. (While the celebrity mass media chefs and good cooks everywhere will advocate that the the quality of ingredients is what really counts, I rarely go out of my way to purchase the ingredients listed in a recipe.)

I’m usually more interested in the method than the ingredients in any case, such that when I write down my own recipes I tend to omit the list. Much like the first recipes.

A bit like these formeika posts of mine too I guess.

See, I decided to write a poem on improving the human and it will possibly take the form of a recipe/code more than a straight code poem, as originally intended. More appropriate if we remain embodied as improved transhumans I think.

The question here in this post however, is will sharing these posts of mine on form in social media fora lead to a recapitulating the ontogeny of the recipe as we know it?

What will emerge from sharing the creative process? Or at least the notes on sharing process?

The form of the recipe we know today came from the writers, eventually, considering their audience as novices, and basically if you don’t then you are a novice writer, even if you are a very good professional chef sharing your expertise.

Bring social media into the mix, that short hand for modern communications and hypertextuality, and the team work requirements that have brought about a similar form in coding to cooking recipes show that this may be the common solution when groups of people have to share and create together how to do stuff that’s not one-on-one training.

But what does it mean for the actual creative process itself? This question, this problem, I will seek to answer in my recipe/code poem on improving the human.

Share the problem, share the solution.

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