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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 374 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

AI and advertising

Most prominent web publishers such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Reddit and news sites, generate revenue by placing banner, side-bar and in-text adverts on their pages. The ads are tailored for your eyes, and may differ from what others see on the same pages. Programmatic advertising directs what ads you see on web pages and social … Continue reading

What’s wrong with the sharing economy

The so-called sharing economy has come under a lot of criticism lately. Think of the apparently (almost) unregulated and unfair practices surrounding Uber, the global car hire (taxi) firm that designates its drivers as self-employed. Passengers like Uber. Once subscribed, you book a car and driver via your smartphone. You track your nearest available ride … Continue reading

Troll farming

When did the Internet lose its innocence? In 1993 pioneering advocate for life online Howard Rheingold wrote in The Virtual Community: “People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and … Continue reading

Encrypted city

Urban metaphors are powerful in the world of computing. The reverse is also true. Computing brings metaphors to bear on how we think of cities — as flows of data, networks, circuits, grids and an Internet of things, as if cities are made up of bits, memories (RAM), sensors, actuators, and with communication systems, inputs, … Continue reading

Romancing the blockchain

The blockchain idea is addictive for some. It’s technically fascinating, mysterious and counter-intuitive. It depends on cryptography to function, and inherits the fascination many of us have with cyphers and codes. Who can resist the lure of a secret message? The way blockchain platforms function also mystify with their abstruse methods and terminology: proof of … Continue reading

Share city

In his book on the “sharing economy,” Arun Sundararajan maintains that commerce is shifting “away from traditional corporations and toward a crowd of entrepreneurs we find through a digital marketplace” (6). Within the constellation of these new (shared) business models he places Airbnb, a platform that allows individuals to capitalise on their own under-utilised domestic … Continue reading

How smart are smart contracts?

Blockchain technologies such as bitcoin, support peer-to-peer monetary transactions, where lines in a shared ledger indicate payer, payee, date, amount and the goods or services to be exchanged: as is the case in a line in a bank statement. But, instead of a text line indicating  the product being exchanged, what if that line included … Continue reading

Sign here ……………………

How do signatures function? A signature is a sign, seal, or mark on a document indicating its authenticity, as when a painter signs a painting, or someone signs a letter or legal document. The signature and the thing it marks is meant to be a one-off. The signature marks an original document, before the thing … Continue reading

Decode this

Political statements come coded: “I think there’s blame on both sides. I don’t have any doubt about it and you don’t have any doubt about it either.” That was Trump on the white supremacist contingent at the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville this week (with violence resulting in deaths and injury). The statement sounds … Continue reading

An anti-hacker puzzle

Following on from my previous post … Here’s a simple puzzle challenge. The SHA256 hashing algorithm (see earlier post: Immutable data) converts any string of text (integers or letters) into a (near) unique 64 character long string of numbers and letters. Using this algorithm the string “301253” (someone’s birthdate) translates to the string of characters … Continue reading

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Wooden specimens of Platonic solids in the background

AHRC/EPSRC/ESRC/MRC project

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