Live Coding: A User's Manual

Performative, improvised, on the fly: live coding is about how people interact with the world and each other via code. In the last few decades, live coding has emerged as a dynamic creative practice, gaining attention across cultural and technical fields—from music and the visual arts to computer science.

Live Coding: A User’s Manual is the first comprehensive introduction to the practice and a broader cultural commentary on the potential for live coding to open up deeper questions about contemporary cultural production and computational culture. This multiauthored book—by artists and musicians, software designers, and researchers—provides a practice-focused account of the origins, aspirations, and evolution of live coding, including expositions from a wide range of live coding practitioners. In a more conceptual register, the authors consider liveness, temporality, and knowledge in relation to live coding, alongside speculating on the practice’s future forms.

Read the book!

This book is published open access by MIT Press, widely available in paperback (please consider using an ethical bookseller), and for free download as epub, pdf or mobi files:

For e-readers, please refer to your device’s manual for how to load them. For example on kindle, you could use the send to kindle service, and on others you might transfer via usb cable from a computer.

There is also an experimental version readable online.


This book is written by Alan Blackwell, Emma Cocker, Geoff Cox, Alex McLean and Thor Magnusson, with an expositions chapter consisting of contributions from Rangga Aji, ALGOBABEZ, Jack Armitage, Rafaele Andrade, Pietro Bapthysthe, Lina Bautista, Renick Bell, Alexandra Cardenas, Lucy Cheesman, Joana Chicau, Nick Collins, Malitzin Cortes, Mamady Diara, Claudio Donaggio, Rebecca, a Fernandes, Jason Freeman, Flor de Fuego, Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo, Mike Hodnick, Timo Hoogland, Miri Kaat, Abhinay Khoparzi, Shawn Lawson, Melody Loveless, Mynah Marie, Fabrice Mogini, Kofi Oduro, David Ogborn, Jonathan Reus, MicoRex, Antonio Roberts, Charlie Roberts, Jessica Rodriguez, Iris Saladino, Kate Sicchio, th4, Rodrigo Velasco, Elizabeth Wilson, and Anna Xambo.

Please refer to the acknowledgments section of the book for a (unfortunately but necessarily incomplete) list of all those who made this book possible.

We hope that as an open access text, that the list of authors grows as future contributors take it further.


The cover design is by Joana Chicau, using FT88 from the Degheest font family designed by Mandy Elbé and Oriane Charvieux, based on typeface by Ange Degheest.