Coding Systems

2023 was the year in which Coding Systems was born. 
2024 will be the year in which Coding Systems life will emerge.

Barcelona, November, 2023

It’s early days in the new year. The holidays are over, but you haven’t started working yet properly. You are thinking about what you want to do in the new year but are also almost nostalgically looking back to the past year. You ask yourself what happened, why it happened, and what it means. Although beginnings seem to be aleatory, what follows seems to be almost logical.

We are trained to think in linear cause-and-effect patterns. They seem to make sense to our brains. But so does the concept of emergence, which I learned to prefer. According to Wikipedia “… emergence occurs when a complex entity has properties or behaviors that its parts do not have on their own, and emerge only when they interact in a wider whole.” 

I stopped believing in the cause-and-effect narrative after many situations in which I tried to make something happen that wasn’t in my power to make happen. Situations so complex and with so much invisible dark matter influencing it, that it was kind of naive of me to think that there would be a strategy to make it work. That there would be THE perfect plan, THE right kind of action or message that would make me succeed. Not succeeding meant it had been my fault, which is a conclusion that is neither healthy nor productive. 

Sometimes the only thing you can and should do is to create the right conditions for good things to emerge. You can’t force a seed to turn into a plant faster, but you can create the right conditions for it to grow as fast as it can. In this metaphor and the context of emergence and coding systems, no person is the plant. We are all facilitators of the right conditions for the plant, Coding Systems. 

(c) Blanc Festival, Vilanova, Spain, 2023

Tim Rodenbröker and I started creating the right conditions, when we met in January 2023 in Cubelles, Barcelona, Spain, to work for a week on a book, bringing together Creative Coding and Flexible Visual Systems. Although we have been in contact since 2015, having a week to exchange doubts and thoughts in person has been the foundation for a deeper collective sensemaking process. Social cognition makes the emergence of compound learning more likely. No Zoom meeting would have gotten us that far. 

Ten months later we had no book, but a pretty good idea of what Coding Systems is to us. Meeting again in Barcelona, we set up a website and organized a workshop. Not because workshops would be what we do under the name of Coding Systems, but because materializing our ideas in something was important to make them become part of reality. The German word for reality is “Wirklichkeit” which contains the word “Wirkung”, which translates as “effect” in English. The materialization of the ideas of Coding Systems would have an effect on others as well as ourselves, once it would have materialized. It could become a stepping stone for our thinking and allow others to join our thought process. In an attempt to summarize the conclusions we have reached so far, I have written this probably ever evolving Coding Systems manifesto:

  1. Coding Systems is a creative process. The result of coding systems is emergent. 
  2. Coding Systems is a tool. It codifies flexible systems into a language that makes them executable by machines but used by humans. 
  3. Coding Systems believes in the human as the driving force behind thinking. Tech should enhance thinking and not obscure it. Tech and the dynamics behind it, need to stay transparent in its incentives. 
  4. Coding Systems strives for a better understanding of the costs and consequences of our work and wants to act accordingly. 
  5. While we want to work on real-life projects, we are teachers at heart.

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The original article ended here. Sometimes, when I write, I focus solely on organizing my thoughts and overlook the reader. Upon revisiting the content, I realized that summarizing some key points might be beneficial. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked anything.

Embrace Emergence:
Acknowledge the complexity of situations and accept that not everything follows a linear path; some aspects cannot be planned. Focus on creating conducive conditions rather than attempting to control every facet of a project.

Allow for Collective Sensemaking:
Encourage in-person interactions whenever feasible to foster deeper collective learning. Social cognition and synergy are pivotal in the emergence of relevant transdisciplinary philosophies.

Materialize Ideas:
Translate conceptual notions into tangible forms to bring them into reality. This materialization generates an “effect” and serves as a stepping stone for further development.

Core Principles:
Define and adhere to the fundamental principles guiding your project or endeavor. For Coding Systems, these encompass creativity, human-centric technology, transparency, understanding consequences, and adopting a teaching-oriented approach.

Act Responsibly:
Aim for a comprehensive understanding of the implications and consequences of your work. Act in accordance with this understanding to ensure responsible outcomes.

Teach and Learn:
Maintain a teaching-oriented mindset, even in commissioned work. Share knowledge, inspire, and continuously learn from others. In lifelong learning, everyone assumes the roles of teacher, tutor, and student simultaneously, always.

… and yes, if you’re interpreting this text as guidance on founding a company, it’s crucial to contemplate the revenue stream. It needs to uphold the business without compromising its foundational principles.