A programmable toolkit for building collaborative musical controllers

BlockyTalky is a programming environment designed to make it easy for novice programmers to make interactive, networked physical computing devices. Kids as young as ten have used it to rapidly build a wide range of projects, from networked cat feeders to computer music systems. Part of my work on this project was to adapt BlockyTalky so that it could be used by adults to interface with professional level artistic software like Max/MSP, Pd, Unity, Processing, and more.

Kelly, A., Finch, L., Bolles, M., Shapiro, R.B. (2018). BlockyTalky: New programmable tools to enable students’ learning of networks. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction. DOI:

Shapiro, R. B., Kelly, A., Ahrens, M., Johnson, B., & Politi, H. (2017). BlockyTalky: Tangible Distributed Computer Music for Youth. The Computer Music Journal. MIT Press., 41(2), 1–30. DOI:

Shapiro, R. B., Ahrens, M., Fiebrink, R., & Kelly, A. (2015). BlockyTalky: A Physical and Distributed Computer Music Toolkit for Kids. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression.