Women in live-coding HISTORY


I am writing an academic paper about women in live-coding, of course there is MAANY, but!!! The computer (science in general) history does not recognize women a lot in general, and I know that there might be soo many amazing live-coding women from the very early 80’s who were working for example with PowerBooks_unPlugged, The Hub, etc. and these are the women I am really really looking for and I cannot seem to find anything.

I know about Laurie Spiegel and her Music Mouse, but are there any woman from the beginnings of this Hub/Powerbooks era, you would know about?

Thank you very much!

Amy Alexander was an OG toplap.

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PowerBooks_unPlugged did/does indeed include Renate Weiser and Echo Ho, and as @sicchio says Amy Alexander explored visual livecoding from the beginnings of TOPLAP. However this came about in the '00s. Earlier than the 00’s is difficult, as the terms live coding/live programming/on the fly coding were not coined then, and we are in the realms of very heavily male dominated software engineering and music technology culture. Laurie Spiegel and her contemporaries were able to operate only because they got in early on, before hierarchies formed.

The Hub are often cited as prototypical live coders, but according to them, they were not actually doing any live coding, apart from maybe fixing bugs. It was not part of their practice.

To find a feminist foundation for live coding we have to break out of the software engineering frame, and I think Ursula Franklin’s “real world of technology”, published in the 80’s, is a great start. It describes a ‘holistic’ approach to technological systems that is improvisatory, where humans are in control of their own work and contraints. These are public lectures, you can find audio recordings on archive.org, and also find it in book form. This approach expands the field of live coding to include e.g. textiles, which especially when handwoven/hand-braided, are computational and can also be improvisatory. It’s clear to me that live coding is simply a craft-based approach to computer programming, and as such we have tens of thousands of years of craft practice to draw from.