Computational Essay

A __computational essay__ - a term first coined I believe by Stephen Wolfram - refers to the longstanding idea of multimedia documents that predate the web. These documents would contain simulations, live code, integrated with descriptive text and video.

As argued by Bret Victor and others, this is a new medium of expression which offers new possibilities for human beings to deliberate over complex systems.

A computational essay is in effect an intellectual story told through a collaboration between a human author and a computer.

The computer acts like a kind of intellectual exoskeleton, letting you immediately marshall vast computational power and knowledge. But it’s also an enforcer of understanding. Because to guide the computer through the story you’re trying to tell, you have to understand it yourself. . . .

Stephen Wolfram -

Unfortunately this vision is neutered due to the proprietory nature of the Wolfram Language.

This description emphasises the multimedia elements, however it is equally possible to picture the same form of document as something displayed by a more fully specified script editor. This is what we explore here.

# Literate Livecode

Literate Livecode aims to take the concept of a computational essay and build it step-by-step into a pragmatic modern multimedia environment.

# See also