Programming Sketchbooks

I’m looking through Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Mally’s tumblr and a lot of what he posts are pictures from his sketchbook. I wish, as a programmer, I could have a sketchbook. I can sorta do it. A paper book lets me write my thoughts down, and I can doodle in it too (if I was any good at doodling!). Or I could blog it and let other people read / see it.

But I can’t really sketch out programs in this way. I can’t keep a running diary of code I write. The closest thing I can do is keep a running sketchblog with pictures (or videos) of what I’m working on. I can’t actively share the stuff (at least not in a website format). I guess I could theoretically make an app, but then all my stuff has to become appy (and if it’s an iOS app, then it has to be touch-related). Programs are so tricky, because not only do they have to execute (and usually can only execute in one place / platform), they also often involve affordances (that is, they often have to be used, which implies ways to interface with the program — touch? mouse? keyboard? stylus?). How can that be encompassed in a sketchbook?

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Semi-related, while reading his tumblr, I’m saving a bunch of the images I see and like. Part of me wants to print those all out, I want to be surrounded by them, and I want to draw, too. But usually I also want to share the stuff I’m currently into. That’s probably because I’ve been wrecked by social networks for so long. I feel kind of conditioned to want to share all this stuff.

What I really want is twofold: 1. I want to make great things and tell people about them and 2. I want to see what my friends are up to (what rad shit are they working on?). Through these, I’ll learn new things and meet new people, too.

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Mainly, I love the idea of these sketchbooks, but so much of programming is invisible. I don’t really care to show or see code, I want to share and see sketches of programs. Those don’t really exist today. Programming hasn’t yet entered an era where we can sketch (which doesn’t necessarily mean “programming with a stylus” (though it could) so much as it means “rapidly creating rough versions of program ideas”).

What would a programming sketchbook look like?

Speed of Light