62 episodes

Playful explorations of the rich past and exciting future that we're all building with our silly little computers. Hosted by Jimmy Miller and Ivan Reese.

Future of Coding Future of Coding

    • Technology
    • 4.9 • 24 Ratings

Playful explorations of the rich past and exciting future that we're all building with our silly little computers. Hosted by Jimmy Miller and Ivan Reese.

    No Silver Bullet by Fred Brooks

    No Silver Bullet by Fred Brooks

    Jimmy and I have each read this paper a handful of times, and each time our impressions have flip-flopped between "hate it so much" and "damn that's good". There really are two sides to this one. Two reads, both fair, both worth discussing: one of them within "the frame", and one of them outside "the frame". So given that larger-than-normal surface for discursive traversal, it's no surprise that this episode is, just, like, intimidatingly long. This one is so, so long, friends. See these withered muscles and pale skin? That's how much time I spent in Ableton Live this month. I just want to see my family.

    No matter how you feel about Brooks, our thorough deconstruction down to the nuts and bolts of this seminal classic will leave you holding a ziplock bag full of cool air and wondering to yourself, "Wait, this is philosophy? And this is the future we were promised? Well, I guess I'd better go program a computer now before it's too late and I never exist."

    For the next episode, we're reading a fish wearing a bathrobe.

    Sorry, it's late and I'm sick, and I have to write something, you know?


    Fred Brooks also wrote the Mythical Man-Month, which we considered also discussing on this episode but thank goodness we didn't.

    Also, Fred Brooks passed away recently. We didn't mention it on the show, but it's worth remarking upon. RIP, and thanks for fighting the good fight, Fred. I still think you're wrong about spatial programming, but Jimmy agrees with you, so you can probably rest easy since between the two of us he's definitely the more in touch with the meaning of life.

    The Oxide and Friends podcast recorded an episode of predictions.

    Jimmy’s Aphantasia motivates some of his desire for FoC tools.

    Don’t miss the previous episode on Peter Naur’s Programming as Theory Building, since Ivan references it whilst digging his own grave.

    Jimmy uses Muse for his notes, so he can highlight important things in two colors — yes, two colors at the same time. Living in the future.

    For the Shadow of the Colossus link, here’s an incredible speedrun of the game. Skip to 10:20-ish for a great programming is like standing on the shoulders of a trembling giant moment.

    Mu is a project by Kartik Agaram, in which he strips computing down to the studs and rebuilds it with a more intentional design. “Running the code you want to run, and nothing else.”

    “Is it a good-bad movie, a bad-bad movie, or a movie you kinda liked?”

    Ivan did some research. Really wish Marco and Casey didn't let him.

    Jimmy did an attack action so as to be rid of Brook’s awful invisibility nonsense. Awful.

    As promised, here’s a link in the show notes to something something Brian Cantrill, Moore’s Law, Bryan Adams, something something.

    Dynamicland, baby!

    Here’s just one example of the racist, sexist results that current AI tools produce when you train them on the internet. Garbage in, garbage out — a real tar pit. AI tools aren’t for deciding what to say; at best, they’ll help with how to say it.

    Gray Crawford is one of the first people I saw posting ML prompts what feels like an eternity ago, back when the results all looked like blurry goop but like… blurry goop with potential.

    Not sure of a good link for Jimmy’s reference that Age of Empires II used expert systems for the AI, but here’s a video that talks about the AI in the game and even shows some Lisp code.

    Idris is a language that has a bit of an “automatic programming” feel.

    The visual programming that shall not be named.

    When people started putting massive numbers of transistors into a single chip (eg: CPU, RAM, etc) they called that process Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI). Also, remember that scene in the first episode of Halt and Catch Fire when the hunky Steve Jobs-looking guy said "VLSI" to impress the girl from the only good episode of Black Mirror? I'm still cringing.

    Sally Haslanger is a modern day philos

    • 3 hr
    Programming as Theory Building by Peter Naur

    Programming as Theory Building by Peter Naur

    This is Jimmy’s favourite paper! Here’s a copy someone posted on HitBug. Is it as good as the original? Likely not! Ivan also enjoyed this Theory Building business immensely; don’t be fooled by the liberal use of the “blonk” censor-tone to cover the galleon-hold of swearwords he let slip, those mostly pertain to the Ryle.

    For the next episode, we’re reading No Silver Bullet by Fred Brooks.


    The Witness, again!

    The Generation Ship Model of Software Development

    The philosophy of suckless.org

    Stop Writing Dead Programs, a talk by Jack Rusher, gets a whole new meaning!

    Someone rewrote Super Mario 64’s code to run faster and better on original N64 hardware.

    Music featured in this episode:

    Speed x Distance = Time by Blonde Redhead from the album In an Expression of the Inexpressible which, upon reflection, is actually not Ivan’s favourite. That’d be Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons.

    Hey listener! Send us questions so we can answer them on the show. Like, “How do you turn your worms?” Or, “What’s so great about prepromorphisms anyway?” We’ll answer them, honest! Send them here:

    Or just DM us in the FoC Slack.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 55 min
    Magic Ink by Bret Victor

    Magic Ink by Bret Victor

    Before the time-travelling talks, the programmable rooms, the ladders and rocket launchers, we had the first real Bret Victor essay: Magic Ink. It set the stage for Bret's later explorations, breaking down the very idea of "software" into a few key pieces and interrogating them with his distinct focus, then clearly demoing a way we could all just do it better. All of Bret's works feel simultaneously like an anguished cry and a call to arms, and this essay is no exception.

    For the next episode, we're reading Programming as Theory Building by Peter Naur, with a little bit of Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind thrown in for good measure.


    Four Hundred of the most Chart-Topping Thoughts of All Time:

    Inventing On Principal
    Stop Drawing Dead Fish
    Drawing Dynamic Visualizations

    Paper Programs by JP Posma was inspired by Dynamicland.

    "Computers aren't the thing. They're the thing that gets us to the thing." from Halt and Catch Fire

    Charticulator is Microsoft Research's take on a _Drawing Dynamic Visualizations_-esq tool.

    Jimmy's Fender Jazz bass looks like this, but red, but like a decade older, but like $600 at the time.

    We could probably post parts of this episode as Boyfriend Roleplay on YouTube.

    Fitts's Law is but one thing we've learned about the industrial design aspect of building good software.

    The Witness is a game where communicating ideas through (essentially) graphic design is the whole entire point of the game. If you haven't played it, know that it comes highly recommended by plenty of folks in the community.

    A "red letter Bible" is a Bible in which the words spoken by Jesus are colored red, to make them easier to identify.

    Toph Tucker has a pretty cool personal website. It's rare to see these sorts of sites nowadays, and they're always made by adventuresome programmers, trendy design agencies, or their clients. In the Flash era, it felt like everyone had a website like this, for better and for worse.

    tldraw is a beautiful little browser-based drawing tool by Steve Ruiz. What few things it does, it does exceptionally well.

    John while Henry had had had had had had had had had been my preference.

    #devlog-together is the channel on our Future of Coding slack community where members post small, frequent updates about what they're working on.

    The (Not Boring) apps are arguably a counterpoint to Bret's theses about information apps and harmful interaction, where the interaction and graphic design are balanced against being maximally-informative, toward being silly and superfluous, to great effect.

    Did you know there's a hobby horse, but also a hobby horse? I didn't!

    There are a few examples of folks doing FoC work that, in Ivan's view, align well with the values Bret outlines in Magic Ink:

    Szymon Kaliski's projects for Ink & Switch, summarized in his Strange Loop talk, Programmable Ink.
    Mock Mechanics is an environment for building mechanisms by Felipe Reigosa.
    PANE by Josh Horowitz inverts the usual node-wire programming pattern by putting data in the nodes and data transformation in the wires.

    Robot Odyssey was a 1984 game for the Apple II (and some other, lesser systems) in which players would go inside various robots to reprogram them.

    Music featured in this episode:

    Wash Machine, from the unfinished 2014 album Sneaky Dances
    Shaun's Amaj Rebirth, created in November 2022 for a friend named — you guessed it — Shaun.

    Hey! Send us questions we can answer on the show. Like, "How do you keep bread warm?" Or, "What's so great about concatenative languages?" We'll answer them. Send them here:

    Or just DM one of us in the FoC Slack.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 hr 20 min
    Worse is Better by Richard P. Gabriel

    Worse is Better by Richard P. Gabriel

    Following our previous episode on Richard P. Gabriel's Incommensurability paper, we're back for round two with an analysis of what we've dubbed the Worse is Better family of thought products:

    The Rise of Worse Is Better by Richard P. Gabriel
    Worse is Better is Worse by Nickieben Bourbaki
    Is Worse Really Better? by Richard P. Gabriel

    Next episode, we've got a recent work by a real up-and-comer in the field. While you may not have heard of him yet, he's a promising young lad who's sure to become a household name.

    Magic Ink by Bret Victor


    The JIT entitlement on iOS is a thing that exists now.

    Please, call me Nickieben — Mr. Bourbaki is my father.

    A pony is a small horse. Also, horses have one toe.

    Electron lets you build cross-platform apps using web technologies. The apps you build in it are, arguably, doing a bit of "worse is better" when compared to equivalent native apps.

    Bun is a new JS runner that competes somewhat with NodeJS and Deno, and is arguably an example of "worse is better".

    esbuild and swc are JS build tools, and are compared to the earlier Babel.

    The graphs showing the relative lack of churn in Clojure's source code came from Rich Hickey's A History of Clojure talk. To see those graphs, head over to the FoC website for the expanded version of these show notes.

    Some thoughts about wormholes.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Structure of a Programming Language Revolution by Richard P. Gabriel

    Structure of a Programming Language Revolution by Richard P. Gabriel

    Today we're discussing the so-called "incommensurability" paper: The Structure of a Programming Language Revolution by Richard P. Gabriel.

    In the pre-show, Jimmy demands that Ivan come right out and explain himself, and so he does, to a certain extent at least. In the post-show, Jimmy draws such a thick line between programming and philosophy that it wouldn't even look out of place on Groucho Marx's face.

    Next episode, we will be covering the Worse is Better family of thought products, so take 15 minutes to read these three absolute bangers if you'd like to be ahead of the game:

    The Rise of Worse is Better by Richard P. Gabriel
    Worse is Better is Worse, definitely not by Richard P. Gabriel
    Is Worse Really Better? by Richard P. Gabriel


    Phlogiston Theory
    Phlogiston the excellent chiptune musician.
    Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life, by Conor Oberst.
    Not to be confused with Conal Elliott, who introduced the original meaning of functional reactive programming in his work on Fran.
    Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers
    Pilot: A Step Toward Man-Computer Symbiosis
    Jimmy's talk Paradigms Without Progress: Kuhnian Reflections on Programming Practice
    There's some sporadic discussion of Philip Wadler (who Ivan playfully calls "Phil"), specifically his claim that programming languages have some bits that are invented and some bits that are discovered. While we're here, make sure you've seen the best 15 seconds in Strange Loop history.
    Peter Naur's Programming as Theory Building


    CarrotGrid — They don't have a web presence (weird, hey?) but they're working on an interesting problem at the intersection of data, so listen to the short ad in the episode to find out more.

    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital — Instead of running our usual sponsors today, we'd like to direct your attention to this humanitarian cause. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and our friends (can we call them that?) at Relay.fm are running a pledge drive. If you have any spare coins in your couch cushions, or a few million left over from your last exit, you'd be hard pressed to find a more deserving way to invest them. Donate here.

    Show notes for this episode can be found at futureofcoding.org/episodes/58
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 hr 58 min
    Personal Dynamic Media by Alan Kay & Adele Goldberg

    Personal Dynamic Media by Alan Kay & Adele Goldberg

    There once was a podcast episode. It was about a very special kind of book: the Dynabook. The podcast didn't know whether to be silly, or serious. Jimmy offered some thoughtful reflections, and Ivan stung him on the nose.

    Sponsored by Replit.com, who want to give you some reasons not to join Replit, and Theatre.js, who want to make beautiful tools for animating the web with you.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 2 hr 45 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Arlie K ,

Compelling coding conversations!

I so enjoy this podcast! Each episode offers a deep dive into the minds of some seriously impressive guests. No matter the topic, I learn something valuable every time. It's a real treat!

Just some guy using Signal ,

The Future is Here

There is no better time than now to affect a course change in how we build software and this podcast is a lighthouse on that journey. Take the first step now, listen and contribute to this worthy cause.

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