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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 382 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Triadomania

Many of us new to the details of C.S. Peirce’s sign categories find them difficult to define, identify, remember, recall and use. As Miss Brodie said of the use of the quarter hour, I refuse to be intimidated by Peirce’s fine semiological distinctions. I’m assuming Peirce’s system constitutes a kind of brain trainer, the understanding … Continue reading

Semiotic shock

In his 1903 article “Nomenclature and divisions of triadic relations, as far as they are determined,” C.S. Peirce outlined 10 classes of signs based on 3 combinations of 3 terms. Whatever his classifications tell us about categories of signs and meanings, there’s a seductive geometry to his formulation, and some anomalies. His three semiotic terms … Continue reading

Index fever

In writing about the post-digital condition, media commentator Florian Cramer identified a “semiotic shift to the indexical”(22) and away from symbols. The indexical relationship is a direct connection between an object and its sign, as if the sign is caused by its object (as smoke or soot are caused by fire). According to C.S. Peirce, … Continue reading

Calculating belief

In previous posts I referenced C.S. Peirce’s (1839-1914) concept of abduction, or evidential reasoning, i.e. establishing the support a particular proposition (hypothesis) has from evidence. The theories of the Presbyterian minister/statistician Thomas Bayes (1702-1761) has relevance here. Peirce knew of Bayes’s work on probability though he didn’t support Bayes’s approach to mathematical reasoning. Never-the-less, Bayesian … Continue reading

Climate change and doubt

Who could doubt, in the face of evidence from climate science, “that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” (10)! That’s from the recent report by the US-based Global Change Research Program. The report maintains that from the … Continue reading

Cracks and flaws

I enjoy Keith Olbermann’s weekly YouTube tirades against the US presidential incumbent, who he describes as “f*cking crazy.” See The Resistance with Keith Olbermann. Crazy is what you say about old ships “Full of cracks or flaws; damaged, impaired, unsound; liable to break or fall to pieces; frail, ‘shaky’” (OED). The metaphor translates to a state … Continue reading

Pointlessness

“What is the average weight of residents of Vienna with telephone numbers ending in ‘3’?” In arguing for clear logic, the prominent philosopher and logician Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970) cited the question above as pointless (p.61). Who cares, and who really wants to know anyway! Of course, with the data deluge of the digital age, even … Continue reading

On being clear and distinct

Who would not advocate for clarity and distinctness in communication? It’s a big deal in American politics at the moment, as pundits wrestle with the president’s messages that are anything but. The opposite of clear and distinct is something like obscure and blurry, like being in a cloud, where you can’t see properly and forms … Continue reading

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

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