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Dark whisperers

“Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! …” I wrote about relaxation videos based on ASMR in the previous post — peculiar videos featuring whispers, combinations of phonemes in succession (t t t t), and non-oral substitutes: fingers tapping, fabric brushing, scraping, etc. At the right time and place such sounds can be relaxing and mesmerising for … Continue reading

The pleasures of the mouth

The soft human voice signifies comfort. Some would say that parental cooing and burbling sends babies to sleep. That affinity with the voice persists into later life. Thanks to telephones and mobile phones, the voice-in-your-ear is ubiquitous in contemporary life — compounding opportunities for the voice to do its work. The soft voice, breath, the … Continue reading

The word on the street

You may wonder at the affinity amongst rich, famous, powerful and (mostly) white men — and hip hop. We may have expected an affinity between Barack Obama and rappers such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, but not Donald Trump. To those in the know, rap gives expression to social conditions where there’s “unemployment, violent crime … Continue reading

Perspecticide

The concept of defence is not so far from the idea of architecture. Vitruvius made that clear in his Ten Books on Architecture, the last of which is devoted to siege engines and ballistae. Security and defence are amongst the benefits, then and now, that draw people to live together and form cities. Sound the … Continue reading

Offensive media

Television started to make its way into people’s homes in the 1950s. There were very few channels. Audiences shared roughly the same news, commentary and entertainment outlets. By most accounts such unitary media sources helped reinforce social habits and opinions. Amongst its many effects, mass media tended to put citizens on the same page, with … Continue reading

The platformization of cultural labour

“Platform” is a handy architectural metaphor. In a seminal article from 2010, Tarleton Gillespie reveals the architectural origins of the term. “In this sense ‘platform’ has been broadly used to describe human-built or naturally formed physical structures, whether generic or dedicated to a specific use: subway and train platforms, Olympic diving platforms, deep-sea oil rig … Continue reading

What’s wrong with gamification?

Can everything be gamified? (See last week’s post Gamification 101.) It already is — especially if you believe in “man the player,” homo ludens a term popularised by Johan Huizinga. The concept of gamification refers to only a part of what being homo ludens entails. Even through the limiting lens of instrumentalized, managerialized and manipulative … Continue reading

Gamification 101

How do you turn a routine, everyday activity into something engaging, enjoyable, and even addictive? Answer: you turn it into a game. That’s called gamification. I stumbled across a site that presents the 10 best productivity apps that make use of gamification. The site shows a fitness app that runs on your smartphone. It keeps … Continue reading

The twist

“Now … every story ever told can be broken down into three distinct parts: the beginning, the middle … and the twist.” That’s a line spoken by the actor Jack Black in the kid-friendly horror film Goosebumps (2015). He’s actually playing R.L. Stine, the author of the popular book series on which the film is … Continue reading

Everything is code

“He doesn’t give you questions. He doesn’t give you orders. He speaks in a code. I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade” said convicted ex-lawyer Michael Cohen about his ex-boss (Trump) before the US House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what … Continue reading

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