BlockArt: Visualizing the 'Hundred Languages' of Code in Children's Creations



Shruti Dhariwal

June 24, 2019


Shruti Dhariwal. BlockArt: Visualizing the 'Hundred Languages' of Code in Children's Creations. In Proceedings of the 12th ACM SIGCHI Conference on Creativity and Cognition (C&C '19), San Diego, CA, USA. June 2019.


This paper introduces BlockArt - a colorful visualization tool designed to let users discover their own unique programming patterns on Scratch, the leading block-based online creative coding platform for children. Existing tools and dashboards often utilize data about the types of blocks used in children's projects to generate a narrow quantitative assessment of a project's computational complexity. BlockArt serves both as an alternative approach and an artistic provocation that challenges this view. Rather than datafying children's creations, the tool utilizes data to reveal a hundred ways children create and express their ideas with code. For any given username, the tool dynamically generates colorful visualizations representing the diversity of blocks used in each of their shared projects over time. I discuss the design rationale and illustrate the functionality through examples. I conclude by discussing future work exploring the social potential of the tool in helping young creators connect with others in the community based on their creative computational styles.

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