This program was displayed in Maeda’s 2000 exhibit Post Digital at the ICC Intercommunication Center, running a small BASIC language program with the following instructions :

20 GOTO 10

The same program is also used in Maeda’s book maeda@media as an illustration of “the importance of syntax” (John Maeda; maeda@media; 2000; pp. 18-19) in determining the final output of a program.

Maeda, APPLE II BASIC program
Maeda, APPLE II BASIC program
Maeda, APPLE II BASIC program

Although his comparison with natural language is tenuous at best, by showing slightly different versions of the same code — adding a comma here, removing a space there — he effectively demonstrates that the result can vary quite significantly:

An infinite loop demonstrates a fundamental happening in a computer program. Do something once, then do it again and again until interrupted by either human intervention, system problems, or the loss of electrical power. The slightest change in program instructions can result in error or, better yet, significant variation in program output. For instance, the addition of a single punctuation mark, in this case semicolon and comma, respectively reshapes the output pattern.

In the english language we expect punctuation to change the meaning or nuance of what is written, so it is hardly suprising that it has the same effect on a program. The minor addition of an extra letter space offers a bit of unexpected zest.
– John Maeda; maeda@media; 2000; pp. 18-19

However, in the Post Digital exhibit, the effect seems more that of a nostalghic hint to Maeda’s discovery of code at a young age, and something of a self portrait of an artist-coder as he discovers the narcissistic equivalent of the infamous Hello World.

cf. GOTO, jump