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Richard Coyne

The cultural, social and spatial implications of computers and pervasive digital media spark my interest ... enjoy architecture, writing, designing, philosophy, coding and media mashups.
Richard Coyne has written 417 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Weaponise!

I remember when the Internet was innocent — it put strangers with common interests in touch, supported grass roots activism, encouraged self-help groups to form, and enabled free expression and innovation. Now it’s a weapon. Think of how good and bad human agents and their hirelings, surrogates, mercenaries and robots deploy tweets and other social … Continue reading

Rogue fan fiction: the peculiar case of QAnon

QAnon is the alias of an entity (i.e an individual or a group) that claims to be an operative within the US Intelligence Service. The entity works undercover and discloses tantalising facts about how the US military brought Trump into power to overcome the Deep State. The Deep State is that clandestine and pernicious organisation … Continue reading

Least commitment principle

The least commitment principle is one of several strategies people use when they make plans, such as preparing for a day’s outing. The principle gained currency in the 1980s in the early days of artificial intelligence research. It simply means to prioritise tasks in such a way that you keep certain decisions about resources and … 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

Cooperation and complicity

The Barras is a market in Glasgow that is (or was) notorious as a site for hustlers. It attracts both bargain hunters and spectators. Ten years ago a group of us conducted a study of the area, mainly to consider its soundscape. On more than one visit we observed a familiar scenario involving the sale … Continue reading

Translate me

It is well known that Google Translate uses a statistical machine translation method, based on the occurrence of words in a corpus of training documents gathered from the United Nations and the European Parliament. These source documents exist in various languages and are professionally translated, making it possible to generate a table of likely correspondences … Continue reading

Rhematic architecture

For the non-linguist, the rheme is one of the most difficult concepts in semiotics. It is not in architecture’s lexicon, and it’s had to think of its relevance outside of language study. In fact, in material culture (e.g. architecture) we are more comfortable with the structure of metaphor than with the theme-rheme structure, as I … Continue reading

Full indexical jacket

Art in the 1970s shifted to the indexical, according to Rosalind Krauss, and away from the symbolic. “As distinct from symbols, indexes establish their meaning along the axis of a physical relationship to their referents. They are the marks or traces of a particular cause, and that cause is the thing to which they refer, … Continue reading

You can fool all the people some of the time

The theories about metaphor of the American cognitive linguist George Lakoff have long informed my understanding of language and of design. Lakoff also weighs in on US politics (to use a sporting metaphor). His recent interview on a podcast and his opinion piece in the Guardian are of the moment. I’ll quote a passage about … Continue reading

Undisciplinarity

What is the value of interdisciplinary research? According to a review of research published by the UK funding councils, “Crucially, many major discoveries and breakthroughs have occurred at the boundaries between disciplines resulting in new fields of study, such as biochemistry, health economics, social psychology, development studies and informatics” (Davé, et al., 2016, p.8). If … Continue reading

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