Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum is a true achievement in children’s literature—or in literature in general. It’s something so completely new yet so completely old. As a former full-time storyteller/filmmaker and now designer/coder. I have been aware of and constantly intrigued by the commonalities between key “programming” concepts (such as variables, conditional statements, loops, and even recursion) and narrative structures and formulas. Reading Lauren Ipsum offered me a more concrete way to explore this intrigue.
Laurie, the protagonist in Bueno’s book, follows a fairly strict path along “the hero’s journey” that was established first by the ancient greeks. The seemingly program-ish idea that one must not travel backwards—is not really that program-ish anymore when it’s simply written as “one must not turn back.” But by writing it as “one must not not travel backwards,” Bueno allows his young(and old) readers to read and visualize the semantic logic between words more easily. What this made me think more critically was the prospect of potential impact of “programming” logic on language itself. Could it be possible that in the future, English might become more progam-ish? In what ways has it already become more program-ish than in the centuries before computing’s advent? As computers struggled to process natural language(i.e., Siri, Google Now, etc.), how far have we adapted our language so we can communicate better with computers? How many of us have learnt to ask Siri certain questions in certain ways?
I have a feeling that Lauren Ipsum won’t be the last we see from Carlos Bueno. Or the last we see from the new “programming” literature genre.