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Code is not literature

A literate programmer describes his attempts to get fellow programmers to “read” code the way writers read literature. (He concludes that the deep study of code requires a different analogy.) Preparing for the talk I’m going to give to the Girls who Code cohort, I started thinking about what to tell them about code reading and code they should read. And once again it struck me that for all the…

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‘Jane Austen, Game Theorist’ by Michael Suk-Young Chwe Is a Joke

When [Chwe] says that Austen was a game theorist, he means for us to take him at his word. Never mind the fact that game theory did not emerge until the middle of the twentieth century. Austen, he claims, was a “social theorist” who “carefully establishes game theory’s core concepts” and “systematically explored” them in her novels, which are “game theory textbooks.” This is a perfectly valid statement, as long…

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First Stanford code poetry slam reveals the literary side of computer code

Leslie Wu, a doctoral student in computer science at Stanford, took an appropriately high-tech approach to presenting her poem “Say 23″ at the first Stanford Code Poetry Slam. Wu wore Google Glass as she typed 16 lines of computer code that were projected onto a screen while she simultaneously recited the code aloud. She then stopped speaking and ran the script, which prompted the computer program to read a stream…

Computer scientists quantify elements of writing style that differentiate successful fiction

“Predicting the success of literary works poses a massive dilemma for publishers and aspiring writers alike,” Choi said. “We examined the quantitative connection between writing style and successful literature. Based on novels across different genres, we investigated the predictive power of statistical stylometry in discriminating successful literary works, and identified the stylistic elements that are more prominent in successful writings.” –Computer scientists quantify elements of writing style that differentiate successful…

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What to Do With a B.A. in English?

Some good tips on what to say about your English major during a job interview, and some realistic advice about English grad school. English majors choose a major that not only challenges them intellectually but gives them pleasure. They love to read and think that reading matters. Or they hope to be writers and have taken courses in creative writing to test their potential as poets, fiction writers, and dramatists.…

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Portrait of a Ten-Year-Old Girl

This thoughtful article demonstrates how to use colorful details to keep a reader engaged enough to absorb statistics and trends. What could be just an amusing slice of a Canadian girl’s life of carpools, playdates, and self-invention becomes a launching point for social commentary. The author does refer to herself, but deliberately, selectively; to serve the story, not drown it out. Saving this for the next time I teach “News…