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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 400 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

Challenges of the sharing economy

Architectural Research Quarterly just published an article by Tolu Onabolu and me called “Blockchain for architects: Challenges from the sharing economy.” Our tagline is: “Cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and other aspects of the sharing economy offer benefits and challenges for architecture. They also furnish metaphors about urban living.” The article derives from speculations in this blog … Continue reading

Elect a clown; expect a circus

… says the meme. I’ve been reading Julia Kristeva (1941-) lately, not least as she championed a revised understanding of semiotics in the turbulent 1960s, and is a major figure in the history of semiotics. She mentions C.S. Peirce favourably in a few places, though her philosophy emerges from the structuralism of de Saussure. Roland Barthes … Continue reading

Hermeneutics and logic

Winfried Nöth’s highly useful Handbook of Semiotics has a chapter on hermeneutics. There I saw a cogent account of something I suspected all along — a statement about the similarity between Peirce’s description of abductive inference and hermeneutics (the art of interpretation as discussed by Hans-Georg Gadamer). “For [] hermeneutics, textual understanding (and human knowledge in general) … Continue reading

Speak truth to power

“It sounds a dreadful thing to say, but these are things that don’t necessarily need to be true as long as they’re believed.” Theses are the words of Cambridge Analytica chief executive, according to a recent Guardian article. See the fascinating undercover recording of a sting within a sting. Is truth really under siege? Speak … Continue reading

A brief history of signs

“As his speech deteriorated, Hawking learned to make every sentence count” (597) wrote theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. A complete history of speech synthesis and semiotic systems has yet to be written. I formulated the following reflection before news broke of Stephen Hawking’s death this week. Signs in time Plato was suspicious of signs (or names). … Continue reading

What is pansemiotics?

Pansemiotics has not yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. The term crops up several times in Winfried Nöth’s expansive 1990 book, The Handbook of Semiotics. The term provides a means of describing the theological view that “the whole universe became [in the Middle Ages] signs of divine revelation” (382), as in the Old Testament statement, … Continue reading

When is a building like a bang?

There’s some theoretical support for the idea that a building is a kind of shock, or at least belongs in the same semiotic category as a sudden noise emitted from a machine. Articles by philosopher and semiotician Elisabeth Walther-Bense (1922-2018) are in German — unfortunately, not yet available in English translation, or even online in German … Continue reading

What post humanists want

I’m glad there are philosophers who wrestle with what there actually is in the world — for real. So the rest of us can deal with practical matters. That’s a glib summation of how I contrast C.S. Peirce’s pragmatism with adventures in contemporary ontology. The task for one such ontologist, Graham Harman, is to give … Continue reading

Four-fold reality

C.S. Peirce is amongst the great geometers (or diagrammaticians or combinatorialiasts) of thought. We can also admit the contemporary philosopher of so-called “speculative realism,” Graham Harman, to the four sided pantheon with his book The Quadruple Object. The book is about much more, but in passing happens upon a good justification for the combinatorics of … Continue reading

Hunch, symptom, clue

I sold most of my bit coin last November and made a bit of a profit. Should I buy some more now it’s gone down in price? How do you reason under uncertainty? From a hermeneutical perspective we are always in an uncertain condition, though you might as well call it “contingency.” How you interpret, … Continue reading

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