Do you prefer to act, think of feel when you program ?

This post of @jessitron on the opposition of lambda calculus and Turing Machine, opposing Academy and Engineering, got me thinking on memory and abstraction … Here is the story telling, out of my Lateral thinking , to be followed on the below #Sketchnote:

  • (I am in the train) It is dark, I perceive something looking like a lamp and I want to have my neighbor act on it .
  • But I cannot, because this perception is just in my “head”. and the lamp is too far..
  • Well, maybe he (my neighbor) speaks the same language than me, and I can ask him ? Hm…

In fact, I can re-cognize what I see, this is a lamp, which I pattern-match it to the other lamp I saw before in my memory…

I can associate it to the generic concept of “light”, and I have a word for this . I can now ask my neighbor, who is just sitting next to the lamp, if he is kind enough to switch it on, please, so I can see the light …

turing machine lamba calculus and feelings

Memory & Pattern-Match -> Model -> Share

This memory I use for pattern matching, is mine . It is personal. It is the sum of my experiences . I cannot share it.
but I can think, and abstract, i.e. build model out of (perceived reality). this is still internal to me.
However, these Models, I can dump them on paper and share them, like the above #sketchnote, or use words,like the one you are reading, which are “shared” shortcuts for sharing concepts, pointers to shared models.

Like many humans, I have preference. and when learning, I may prefer to learn by creative tinkering, learn by abstract and thinking, or learn by feeling and sharing. Maybe It is due to my preference to Action, Thinking, or Feeling .

So, when I will be a grown up, I may choose to be a tinkering Engineer, or thinking in Academic , or share my feeling about ideas..

And if I am in IT, my preferred style could be the State and action style of Imperative programming, or .. the abstract declarative style of Functional Programming… not sure about feeling thought..

But regardless of preference, I can do all of them. Of course, I tend to do most the things I prefer. But, if I want to share and reuse these ideas out of my head, and feel good about it, I better have models I can share ….

(this is what got me crossed my mind when reading) :

NAUR 1986: The primary result of programming is the theory held by the programmers

  1. Theory: The knowledge a person must have to do certain things intelligently, explain, answer queries, argue about them…
  2. The programmer must Build a Theory of how certain affairs of the world will be handled by a program; Explain how the affairs of the world are mapped into the program and documentation; Respond to demands for modifications, perceiving the similarity of the new demand with the facilities built.
    • This knowledge transcends that possible in documentation.
  3. This theory is the mental possession of a programmer; the notion of programmer as an easily replaceable component in program production has to be abandoned.

Naur86 quoted by Cockburn98 in [1]

1 Slide 10

Digital Sketchnotes: going over my painpoints with Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage 4.

I had a problem to go Digital for my #sketchnotes.

Thanks to the help of Sachac, I made the switch , when looking at a video of how she was using Sketchbook Pro.

The main pain points for me were :

  • The interface was too much in the way ( much more than a a pen and a moleskine ) ( as I do not know how to sketch , I need not a lot to side track me)
  • My digital sketch were far too big on the screen i.e. not I could not put enough stuff on a A4 ( less than on my A5 moleskine) . Zooming in and out was getting me lost.

The solution to this last point was to add a grid on a layer , which gave me a sense of the scale at a given point. Plus I added another Layer for the framework, where zones can be pre alloted, and which helps getting bearings when zooming and moving around.


this layer could easily be dimmed when working, and removed when publishing.

I could then work at a much higher zoom level, which is easier when using a wacom tablet ( i.e. not a tablet PC / touch screen) , for a beginner like me.


The other problem was too much interface fiddling when you have to sketchnote real time in a meeting or conference. I master the “interface” of my two pens and moleskin for about 50 years now, this was going to be a tough challenge to make it as fluent.

I looked at the two contenders on the market, i.e. SketchbookPro and ArtRage.
I fiddled with SketchbookPro for about 2 weeks, and this is quite good.
However , I settled for ArtRage 4, mainly for one reason : The “Workbench Mode”. And on a minor mode, the references.

The Workbench is a (new) minimalist interface , where everything disappears , except the few things you want to keep at hand. And So, I prepared 4 “Pens”, one black to write, one orange to doodle icons and mini sketch, One Large BoardMarker for Titles, and one airbrush for light shadow. Colors can be pre-assigned, this is a big plus for me, no more other fiddling than changing the “pens” with one click during action time.

In the following, here is the “normal” interface :


the same in Workbench mode: all is gone but my selection of pens.

less distraction, and the choices made at preparation time could simply just be used.

I also quite like the possibility to have “post -it ” like reference at hand ( even on the Workbench if desired):

[2] is a overall view of the drawing,
[3] is a reference picture , here a snapshot of Sachac sketchnote that I was copying.


Lets see in the following weeks if I can confirm this intuition of going digital, IRL 🙂

Edit : I indeed went digital, but I not with ArtRage but reverted to SketchBook pro, because the move action of Artrage is definitively too much in the way, as documented by SachaC in [3]

Related Post:

  • the grid , psd valide for sketchbook or art rage
    [3] :
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