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In the context of modern computer programming, the origin tale of code often begins with the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage in 19th century Europe. This beginning, buoyed by the industrial revolution and militarization, fostered an embedded set of values into computation aligned with an ideology of standardization, optimization, and flawlessness. “Good” code is efficient code that operates on a scarcity mindset, limited by hardware and energy resources. 

And yet, there are histories to math, engineering, and computing that are less prominently recognized because they do not neatly fit into the narratives of capitalist production. Ada Lovelace and her contribution to the development of modern computing has only recently been more broadly recognized. Textile production, which led to the invention of the Jacquard Loom, was a great inspiration to Charles Babbage’s research. Gendered and racialized preconceptions greatly impact what is validated as technical and creative work. We believe that it is time to confront how computational history has been retrofitted to tell a single narrative by recentering marginalized ways of knowing. For example, one may trace back to poe divination to gain a new perspective on the boolean variables. Quipu may be seen as one of the oldest examples of data storage. Fractals, which are often reduced to mathematical formulas in computer science classrooms can be traced back to multiple beginnings throughout ancient history such as traditional African architecture.  

The Critical Coding Cookbook perceives history as a messy entanglement rather than a linear graph. There is a growing awareness towards reclaiming ancestral knowledge and a movement to decolonize computation. Through centering marginalized bodies and identities, we aim to build a collection of alternative histories, narratives, and approaches to computation. This volume of material can serve as an open-source educational resource across a spectrum of learning communities.


The Critical Code Cookbook is a product of many people's work and labor. The project is lead and edited by Xin Xin and Katherine Moriwaki. Visual identity, website design, and implementation by Kevin Cadena. Munus Shih designed the Critical Coding Cookbook Reader, the publication (PDF) companion zine and social media assets (forthcoming.) Taylor Paydos worked on previous visual identity and web design for the initial call for contributions.

Financial support in the form of a School Based Fund award was provided by the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design, The New School University. Additionally, institutional affiliation with Parsons School of Design has provided access to resources and opportunities that were invaluable in getting this project off the ground.

We are using Kirby as our CMS, and Codepen to generate graphics for the splash page.

Though contributions to the Critical Coding Cookbook come from around the world, we pay our respects to the Lenape people, and their unceded sovereign land, upon which this currently New York based team live and work.

License and Copyright

The Creative Code Cookbook has been published digitally under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License. Please note however, that some specific recipes have been released by their author under different agreements. Unless otherwise noted, recipes and the zine fall under this agreement for adaptations of work to be shared with attribution as long as others share alike, and are engaged in non-commercial (not-for-profit) use of the work.