This image is a computer program:
Seriously. It’s written in a language called Piet, and if you run it with a Piet interpreter such as npiet, its output is the text “Piet.” The language is named after artist Piet Mondrian, whose paintings tended to resemble Piet programs.
Here’s another Piet program. In addition to looking pretty, this program prints the text “Hello, World.” More information about how the Piet programming language works is here, and a gallery of other Piet programs is here.
I’m mostly posting this because I thought it was cool and thought TLF could use more pretty pictures. But here’s a vaguely plausible policy angle: non programmers tend to see computer programs as devices–as inscrutable black boxes that perform a particular task, somewhat like a toaster or a VCR. But to a programmer, a software is fundamentally a form of expression. It’s an extremely precise description of a process for performing a particular task.
This is what motivated geeks to mount the argument that the DMCA violates the First Amendment by limiting the right of computer programmers to engage in the expressive activity called computer programming. This undoubtedly struck non-programmers as a goofy argument, but from our perspective, a computer program is just a particularly precise form of expression. And in the case of Piet, it’s both extremely precise and very colorful.
Here’s a Piet program that prints out the letters of the alphabet:
Hat tip: Patri.