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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 350 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Politics as art

Art can bring into sharp relief aspects of life and the world to which people (some of us) previously paid little attention. Art can accomplish this through an ecology of signs — pointing stuff out i.e. by making direct reference. But art also informs by presenting the opposite to what we art lovers might expect as the object of … Continue reading

Emotional targeting

Why do moods matter politically? Think first about economics. If you can predict the mood of a group of people then you might be able to predict how likely they are to buy (and sell) and how much they will pay (and sell for). So investors who speculate on the stock market have a lot to gain by accurately assessing and predicting … Continue reading

Automatic writing

Automatic translation is now mainstream. It’s simple enough to have text on a web site or in a text field translated between languages. The Google translate app on a smartphone combines (AR) “augmented reality” and translation algorithms to create a screen image that substitutes what’s in front of the camera with something like the same text in your … Continue reading

Reverse image search

Biologists have worked out how to use Google’s “reverse image search” to scour scientific papers for similarities between microscopic samples they have photographed and photographs reported in scientific papers by others — on the basis of image matching. This is very powerful. Can practitioners of art and design find equally useful applications of readily-available image matching technology? This weekend marks the … Continue reading

Armchair postmodernism

What is (or was) postmodernism? “[T]ruth is relative, morality is subjective, and therefore all of our individually preferred ‘narratives’ that give our lives meaning are equally true and worthy of validation,” wrote David Ernst by way of definition in The Federalist (21 January 2017). It seems that the current US president is the first “to … Continue reading

You have reached your destination

It sounds final. “You have reached your destination,” says my car SatNav. Achieving a goal is melancholic in several respects. Some achievers realise there’s nothing left. It’s not going to get any better. Then some think their achievement doesn’t accrue all the benefits they expected. Freud also explained melancholy as a tendency to focus on losing something, even if it is … Continue reading

Brainwalks

How can EEG (electroencephalography) help us understand people’s responses to outdoor environments? Due to its constraints, the technology lends itself to two tasks. The wearer of the head-mounted EEG technology is either (1) stationary in the environment, passively observing and listening, or (2) mobile. In the latter case, the EEG wearer just walks, slowly and deliberately. I … Continue reading

End of nature

In what sense is nature ended? It is not just that natural environments have been polluted, over-managed, or subjected to human control, but nature has changed its meaning. This question provides a further touch point for nature and semiotics. Writing in the 1980s, environmental writer Bill McKibben said of nature that it  “is now a category like … Continue reading

“Deconstructing” the curriculum

Perhaps the term “deconstruction” is in for a comeback, as the US White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said, “That’s all going to be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.” (CNN). He was talking about cutting back on government regulation, though he misused the term “deconstruction.” Anti-Trump conservative US commentator Glenn … Continue reading

Less of one and more of the other

The natural is in opposition to the artificial — or so we think. Some oppositions lie at either end of a spectrum, with gradations between. e.g. light versus dark. That’s an opposition with an inverse relationship. The more light you add to an image, the less dark it is. The louder things get, the less quiet; the hotter, the less … Continue reading