Nikita Richardson
March 27, 2016 11:34 am
dougwoods / Flickr

It’s a well-known fact that cats and the Internet are inextricably linked. After all, cat videos are the very foundation everything funny on the web. So, it figures that it was only a matter of time before someone create a computer code based on everyone’s favorite mammals (at least as far as the Internet goes).

Meet ‘Cat++,’ which according to the Creator’s Project is a new live-coding language inspired by real cat behavior. Developed by Irish new media maven Nora O’ Murchú during her residency at the U.K.’s Access Space, the Cat++ code “defines real cat characteristics and behaviors and assigns different dynamic visuals to user input.” And because the code is open source anyone can add new code to make the cats interact with one another and perform other behaviors.

“Altogether Cat++ feels like a cross between live coding and a video game — for me, at least,” O’Murchú told Creator’s Project. “I’ve released just a basic framework on Github with a few functions to support feeding and petting the cats. There are also random events that happen (for example: mice appear) that have various effects on the cats.”

But the implications of this code go far beyond cute cats. For one, as a woman O’Murchú is a minority in the coding community, but it’s this kind of work — based on a real interest she has — that can help make coding and computer programming more attractive and accessible to young girls who might otherwise avoid the coding field because of its seemingly male ethos.

“Code can sometimes be a medium for expression that is most suitable for what you want to express conceptually,”O’Murchú explained. “Like any other tool or medium, it has qualities that, when interacting with it, afford new capabilities that we might not have previously had. It also allows us to develop new uses for code that are more suited to our own concerns or the domains that we are working/living in.”

In other words, coding can give creators of all backgrounds a voice or an outlet in the same way that painting or writing can — it’s simply a matter of getting more people versed in the medium.

Learn more about Cat++ and O’Murchú over at the Creator’s Project or putz around with the code on your own on Github.

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