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work in progress

  • christina

We were supposed to pick up from this project the concept of code as law, and I think that I learned something slightly different from the intended lesson. Maybe law, like coding in Scratch, is built up instead of laid out. People make up laws as problems arise, and sometimes with very little foresight, much like I programmed some pretty poorly planned scripts at first. But the system can be repaired if–and only if–the people working on it treat it as play and DON’T take it too seriously. It would have been pointless to have a hurt ego over the issue, and the fact that Scratch is so friendly really helped me just keep trying until I got it right. Similarly, a lot of problems are made when lawyers and judges are more concerned about their own pride than just tinkering with the system until it works. Law as code as play.

  • Josh Goodman

As far as recommendations for the developers of Scratch go, it would be great if they build in a feature that enables Scratch projects to compile to a stand-alone executable application form (or maybe create a Scratch player if that is necessary). Allowing Scratch programs to be deployed without the coding environment would really make the benefits of the power and simplicity available to the users.


I'm not convinced by this experience, however, that "code is law." The code instructions we used in Scratch seem distinct from law as we generally understand it in law school. There are certainly rules that must be followed in Scratch, and people created rules for their games, but I don't see too many similarities between these rules and the type of rules that are given force by society in the legal system. Most signficantly, I think law as we usually understand is a social phenomenon -- a set of rights and obligations we have with respect to other members of society -- while the social element seems lacking here. We are aware of and follow many different rules in going about our daily lives -- but we don't refer to all of them as laws, and I'm not sure that there is much to be gained analytically by conceptualizing computer code as a type of "law." The rules people created for the players of their games don't seem to be any more or less "laws" to me than the rules of a board game.

  • aaron sokoloff

The lesson of this, for me, was that it's really a continuum between animated art and computer games, and that the game format can be used as a vehicle for a visual expression as much for the experience of gameplaying itself.

  • Darren Klein

the Scratch assignment, for me, was a sucess, because I am still thinking about it. And I am thinking about how to work within yet manipulate the code. It's very similar to the law we learned in our 1L classes.

  • Brett

after a dedicated trial and error effort, I was able to figure out the basics of the program, and began to make headway. Soon, I had developed a concept and began to flesh out the details of my game. In no time at all, I had a functional product. I was somewhat surprised at the pride I felt at this point in my journey, and I was very excited about having other people engage what I had created. It did not matter to me that I would never see any tangible benefit from the time I had put into the project. The joy was in its creation.

  • juanita

what really fascinated me is that with the same tools, each of the students of the class made a completely different game. It proves that Scratch is a great tool for developing the creativity.

  • richard heppner

I'm not entirely sure that I buy the "code as law" analogy. Obviously, the code does direct, restrict and control the actions of the sprites and the program overall. But, that strikes me as quite different from law as we understand it in law school. If law were actually only if-then rules, with no opportunity for interpretation and differentiation, then it wold look a lot more like this code, but of course, it's not. Perhaps, though, the point is that at a sufficient level of complexity (well beyond the code avaialble for us to work with in Scratch) and with a sufficient level of open-ness (in, say, something like a Wiki), the underlying code can direct people's actions (a different phenomenon from directing the computer's actions), at least in general ways.

  • art

I liked learning from scratch because I didn't feel intimidated or overwhelmed, a feeling I'm very susceptible when technology is involved. I also didn't realize how quickly time went when I was programming. I started around 9:00, and when I finished it was about 1:00. I had no idea that the time had passed so quickly. When I was in college I lived with a bunch of CS majors who would stay up all night coding and I never understood it--certainly I could not stay up all night reading history text. Now I understand it a little.

I might also add that the satisfaction of getting the little sprite to do the thing that you want it to do is pretty awesome.

  • Brie

I'd also love to experiment with the programs created by other students -- particularly Tron -- and see if I can build on their work to create an even better game. It would be interesting to see what we might come up with if the entire class was charged with creating a single game, with each person building off the previous student's developments...


  • Sai Rao

it was a very fun exercise that reinforced my views that games can be a valuable form of personal expression, especially they can be copied, shared, or sold on the internet.

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