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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 483 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

The smart of the deal

I’m interested in the technologies, claims and challenges of the smart city: its structures, platforms, processes, security and surveillance systems, involving big data flows and encryption, as well as the city’s opportunists, underworlds, hacks and how cities get interfered with. While futurists, urbanists, academics and cultural commentators probe the city’s covert and overt sign systems, … Continue reading

Nested parentheticals

Sometimes it’s hard to get back on track. People tell stories and construct arguments with subplots and digressions. It’s fine for stories to wander. But for coherence we expect the story-teller to return to the main point, to rewind the string they just unravelled back into a neat ball. One of Trump’s improvised speeches illustrates … 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

Recursion again

In mathematics and computer programming, a recursive definition is one that defines a process in terms of itself: a branch of a tree is a branch that ends in smaller branches. That’s recursive as the definition of a branch in this case refers to a definition of a branch. A program that draws a branching … Continue reading

Recursive cities

Recursion simply means return. So a recursive city could be a city that you return to, or that encourages or requires you to keep coming back — like your home town, or a site of pilgrimage. The metaphor of excursion and return applies in many city contexts. See blog post on that theme. Where there’s … Continue reading

Getting what he deserves

Gamification draws on a narrow understanding of game play: keeping score, leaderboards, rewards, competition, incentives of various kinds. In fact, stripped of ludic graphics and quirky interactions, gamification typically follows processes derived mostly from accounting: the technology of the ledger, or bookkeeping, more specifically double-entry bookkeeping. Gamification through the ages By most historical accounts this … 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

Wood-wide web

To state the obvious, a tree starts from the ground with a trunk that extends into branches and twigs. You could be excused for thinking that nature is shaped like trees. The primary biological morphology is a root and branch structure. Embryonic cells form into tubes that branch, fold, specialise and merge. The form (morphology) … Continue reading

Is it getting harder to be good?

Episode 37 of the comedy series The Good Place delivers a clever parable about ethics. In this unlikely universe people gain entry to Heaven by totting up enough credit points. Good deeds add points to your tally. But a check on the records shows that no one has made it into Heaven for the past … Continue reading

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