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Branded Meeting Places Final Report

Final Report Branded Meeting Places Ubiquitous technologies and the design of places for meaningful human encounter http://ace.caad.ed.ac.uk/Branded/ [inactive] Richard Coyne, James Stewart, Mark Wright, Henrik Ekeus, Penny Travlou, Robin Williams The University of Edinburgh 12 March 2009 In this project we examine the changing character of semi-formal meetings between people and the technologies that support … Continue reading

Tags and codes

Graffiti tags are like the scents left by animals to mark territory. The territorial call signs of birds presumably fill a similar function. Territories are defined as much by secret conventions as they are by walls and boundaries. As explored in my previous post, one of the technical terms for such sign conventions is “deictic” … Continue reading

Trash talk

Like most urban commuters I have learned to tune out other people’s mobile phone conversations. But when I’m forced to attend to one-sided overloud jibber-jabber the interlocutor may as well be speaking in code. “She said that? … He did it then. … Ask him to give it to me when I’m there.” Deixis Deictic … Continue reading

What a mess!

Anyone with a sense of order can’t help but notice that problems frequently occur at the seams, where things join, or don’t join, or don’t quite align as they should — where the joins don’t survive successive adaptations. Sociologist Richard Sennett illustrated the demoralized state of crafters in the former Soviet Union. Once when shown … Continue reading

Hustle, twitter, bells and banter

Free beer! C.S. Peirce and semioticians make much of the meaningful call out of someone like a street vendor. A cry or call out from someone giving away, selling or hustling goods at a market fits one of Peirce’s sign categories. To be precise, it is a kind of dicent indexical legisign. The sign is complete … Continue reading

On being unbalanced

Balance is one of the master metaphors of health, life and of nature (nicely sidestepped in Mark Zuckerberg’s recent plan to engineer a disease free future). The seminal book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, identifies balance as a ubiquitous concept easily traced back to the human body. After all, from an early age, the … Continue reading

The well tempered intellectual

I was pleased to read Alberto Perez-Gomez’s recent book Attunement: Architectural Meaning After the Crisis of Modern Science which endorses the pivotal importance of attunement, emotion, mood and Stimmung in architecture. In fact Alberto’s book came out at the same time as my Mood and Mobility: Navigating the Emotional Spaces of Digital Social Networks, both with MIT … Continue reading

The best there is

Working together inevitably involves compromise. But is compromise always less than the best? Finding the “best” in any situation involves many comparisons, trade-offs, and compromises. Sometimes when trying to find the best solution to a design problem even the most experienced and well focussed individual will alight on something that is better than all the other, similar … Continue reading

The hook

The world is not assembled from blocks. The way we make things such as buildings is more “like weaving a pattern from ever unspooling threads that twist and loop around one another, growing all the while without ever reaching completion.” That’s Tim Ingold‘s account of the process of making. It’s about knots rather than building blocks, an appeal … Continue reading

Nature versus smartphones

People are eager to extol the benefits of fresh green vegetables, education, marriage, and a walk in the countryside, but are instinctively suspicious of new technologies.  That’s the tagline selected by the editors for the cover story I wrote for Interactions Magazine published this month. Interactions is a bimonthly publication of the ACM, and sees itself … Continue reading

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