Cultural account: scripting and shifts in authorship
To be writing about scripting in 2010 has been an interesting experience. Scripting Cultures is a primer, a ‘small introductory book on a subject’, but scripting is still a big soft-boiled topic rendered small only by the lack of real take-up of code writing in design relative to opportunity. I have endeavoured to show that scripting design is potentially as creative a design domain as any other for exploring ideas.
The editorial preface to the 2006 issue of AD foregrounding computer programming, software and design tantalised its readers by stating:
So much more than a development of architects’ technical skill bases, it [computer programming] is set to have a huge impact on the culture of architecture. At such a nascent stage, the ultimate cultural repercussions of a new programming era are only to be guessed at.1
Scripting, as opposed to its more hard-core sibling computer program writing, has been around for as long as there have been computer users – seven decades: the first programs to access memory were written in the 1940s. However much designers access digital technology as part of their practice, in the main they do not script; yet many who do so achieve spectacular results, but they are still the exception, and not the norm. Why is this, and what will persuade the uninitiated to look at scripting as a skill worth adding to the others they deploy when thinking about design using contemporary media?