In 2018 the Psychology of Programming Interest Group (PPIG), held their annual workshop at the Art Workers’ Guild.

PPIG was founded in 1987 in order to bring together people from diverse communities to explore common interests in the psychological aspects of programming and in the computational aspects of psychology. This group includes computer scientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, philosophers and others.

For 30 years, this group has held an annual Conference and the 2016-17 conferences have had a strong thread about coding as craft, with one paper questioning whether Arts and Crafts ethics could be introduced to computer programming at a deep philosophical level, ie They want to make computers beautiful, useful and friendly.

The world of Computer Science is very young. PPIG feel it is going the wrong way. How is our relationship with computers as tools evolving? Makers like Morris were inspired by the past but came to terms with modern technologies and used them when needed, to create meaningful life. What should the Guild’s Utopian vision be for computing?

PPIG believe, following Marshall McLuhan, that such an encounter between craftspeople and technologists could be hugely fertile for our cultures:
’The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.[…] The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs. He, then, builds models or Noah’s arks for facing the change that is at hand.’

Sonia Tuttiett

Guild members were invited to respond to the presence of technologists in their midst with postcards or writings, through a call for postcards answering the following questions Answers could be written, drawn, painted, carved, fired, woven, knitted or programmed. The image can be abstract, realist or other. 2D or 3D.

1. If you could have a bespoke computer/tool built for you, what would it look like/do?
2. If you are old enough to remember a world without computers, can you remember what you thought a computer would be?
3. If it was possible to inherit someone’s bespoke software, who’s would it be and why?
4. If the founders of the Guild had built a special Guild computer into the fabric of the Hall, what would it have done?
5. Have computers ever got in the way of your practice?

You can view the responses here.