Designing human-computer experience isn’t about building a better desktop. It’s about creating imaginary worlds that have a special relationship to reality—worlds in which we can extend, amplify, and enrich our own capacities to think, feel, and act.
—Brenda Laurel, Computers as Theatre
By adding a physical dimension to an imaginary world, that world gains visual and tactile dimensions, allowing for the creation of worlds that can be directly perceived by the senses as opposed to the imaginative faculties. This, correspondingly, strengthens the potential for interaction.
—David Langdon, “World-Building Tools,” The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds
Technomancy 101: Advanced Cybermagic for Beginners is an introduction to doing magic with computers and computational (not necessarily digital) media, presented as a collection of projects demonstrating magician-computer interactions made with Scratch, a visual programming language for novices. The projects range from quite simple to moderately complex, but nothing here requires a degree in computer science or electronics engineering to understand it.
Digital media, physical computing, and electrical materials are the Philosophical Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt of Technomancy 101, but although some projects feature special hardware, many function with only digital assets and may be previewed in a web browser. Whatever technology is within your reach, you should find something here that edifies or inspires you.
No prior computer programming experience is required, however the example projects’ utility depends largely on your level of magical experience, but do not feel discouraged if you have never before practiced magic. If you are new to the occult or computational media arts, the appendix includes several resources including a list of introductory texts, and additional reading recommendations are given throughout the site. Since there already exist many fine introductions to magic and computer programming, Technomancy 101 does not cover those subjects in detail (beyond developing a basic theory of technomancy that supports a technomantic practice), but rather focuses on bringing them together to trek the path of the Tinkerer-Sorcerer.
You may use the sidebar menu to navigate the site. The contents are organized like a book but feel free to jump around (that is what hyperlinks are for; the project names are in oblique type making them easy to identify should you wish to circumvent my theoretical and philosophical musings), although please keep in mind that some later content assumes familiarity with concepts introduced earlier.
I will be adding more projects over the coming months. I am also writing a glossary to be published by the end of this year, which should help to coalesce many of the diverse topics presented in Technomancy 101. You may follow me on Twitter or Instagram to be notified as new content is published. I am likely to edit existing content as new projects are added or new technologies come to light, or just whenever I feel like it—caveat lector!
I have endeavored to ensure all that is written here is correct and true, but there may yet be errors, or a link might have broken, or you could encounter problems when running the projects or following my instructions or suggestions. Most problems installing or programming with Scratch can be sorted via an internet search, but feel free to drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you find something I did that is in need of repair, or if you want to share how you are getting on or just let me know what a hoopy frood I am.
October 24, 2018