The Art of Jenn Schiffer

I hope it's not weird to write a blog post about Jenn, but I spent a long time watching her talks and ruminating on them over the weekend.

What I want you to get out of this

  • To know about the work and art of Jenn Schiffer
  • To get some impressions on her talks

It started at a casual meetup at Heart of Code dubbed 'Multithread Meetup'.

Participants were encouraged to come along and bring a thread related project. To complement the thread-related activities, we watched a talk related to programming or tech to make it a multi-threaded, thread-related meeting.

Jenn's talk, "Condemned to Compute", was selected.

I had just finished a crocheting project (a blanket) and had nothing current to work on, so I got absorbed in the talk and the discussions and what people had brought along; someone had a speed loom!

TODO: blanket pic

Having nothing else to occupy myself I could watch and take notes.

Jenn is head of Community at Glitch. Jenn is a computer scientist. Jenn is an artist. Jenn's talk was narrative and personal and a little sardonic. Serious satire.

The rabbit hole

  1. Condemned to Compute: How witnessing the last 20 years of computing tells me we’re going to be punished with at least another 20.

    • Jenn wrote a satirical article in the book Beautiful JavaScript. I haven't read it yet, but it's so notorious Reddit has a thread on it:
    •; So cool and fun. Reminds me of the HTML Review:
    • Grid World is an article published on the HTML Review. Grid World author Alex Miller on writing: Good writing is really good thinking
  2. Learn Code, Make Art: Using the Right-brain as a Code Education Tool

    • This talk was mentioned in talk #1.
    • Close to the Machine
    • Assocation for Computing Machinery
    • Jenn learned a lot making There is such a thing as hexagon shaped pixels!!
    • Xylophone with CSS; inspired others who don't think coding is their bag to play with it for artistic purposes.
    • Quote: “I wonder if I could make this!!”
    • CSS Perverts
  3. JavaScript Considered Useful

    • Jenn had a printed copy of the paper by Donald E. Knuth: Computer programming as an art.
    • The Art of Computer Programming. I loaned the first volume from the library because I was so curious. I can't say I understand much of it and probably will have to return it before I make much of a dent, but the opening quote felt apt in talking about coding and art:
    • This talk is about the recent history of the JavaScript community and web developments at was given at JSConf 2019. I think I was at that conference (on a diversity scholarship), but I was probably too new to JavaScript to understand or remember much of anything that I did there. Watching this talk took me back and gave me a second chance to be there. Thanks internet.

"The process of preparing programs for a digital computer is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic experience and much like composing poetry or music"

-- Donald E. Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming (3rd Edition), Preface

The first page of Chapter One of The Art of Computer Programming, has a interpretative image of a tree with flowing branches
The first page of Chapter One of The Art of Computer Programming starts with quotes from Ada Lovelace and Epictetus and is completed by an interpretative image of a tree with flowing branches.

That concludes my Jenn Schiffer rabit hole, for now. I know more about Jenn and the contributions she's made and have a new found respect for what Glitch was and is, the importance and meaning of making art on the internet.