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Published onJul 26, 2020

in:verse is an esoteric programming language and development environment that allows writers to create visuals with words, to mold the language to their liking, and to effortlessly explore unusual variations to their programs — with the assurance that their programs will never crash. It presents a writer with a puzzle in three parts — writing a shader, which requires a different mode of thinking than most computational drawing tools; using a stack-based programming paradigm, that is rarely seen in mainstream programming languages; and telling a story or writing poetry within these constraints.

in:verse lives in a web-based live-coding environment, and has no fixed vocabulary — instead, a writer can choose their own lexicon for mapping words onto mathematical functions (ie GLSL/shader functions). The language is inspired by Forth — using a stack-based programming paradigm with Reverse Polish Notation. It avoids the primary error of stack-based programming — a stack underflow (attempting to retrieve data that does not exist) — by generating random numbers, thereby ensuring the program never crashes.

One of the motivations behind the design of the language and environment was to bring the world of esoteric programming languages to a wider audience. It is still in early stages of development, and entirely a work in progress. The live-coding/performative aspects of the language were developed almost by accident, but have manifested as a critical part of the language.

For the workshop, I will go through the motivations and technical aspects, give a demo, and share my learnings from observing people use in:verse. I hope to gather feedback and insight on the language and current thinking around live-coding. I'm also interested in discussing the potential of natural language as a way of live-coding, and the space for collaboration that it might afford.

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