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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 479 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

A thousand insides

Most cities old and new have underground tunnels, passageways, services, and communication systems, many of these conduits are unused and obsolete. I live in a street with a 15 metre deep tunnel that for 21 years had a rail and cable system for hauling goods and passengers along its 1:27 gradient. The tunnel was since … Continue reading

Forked paths

The usual method for creating a puzzle maze is to start with a rectilinear, triangular or radial grid and mark it up with a convoluted route from start to end. Then draw in branches, loops and deviations that make the route less obvious. The challenge for a maze architect is to provide the appearance of … Continue reading

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a … Continue reading

Hacking the unicursal labyrinth

I think mazes are more interesting to draw than to navigate. Draw arcs from each side of a square grid so that they land on the grid point on the opposite side. That produces something interesting. But it’s not a labyrinth. It’s the asymmetry in the procedure that converts the cross-grid-arc motif into a continuous … Continue reading

Unicursality

The traditional unicursal maze has no forking paths but leads directly to its centre. As a drawing or ornamental pattern you imagine the lines are walls and trace your finger through the opening. You eventually arrive at the centre, through a series of left and right turns. There’s just one path through the intestines of … Continue reading

Infinite souq

Retractable queue barriers funnel airport passengers in twisted but orderly lines. These security labyrinths manage large numbers of people within a confined space. They also keep people on the move, turning compliant travellers into unceremonious processionalists. Umberto Eco thinks the detective story is like a labyrinth. He identified 3 types of labyrinth: the kind that … Continue reading

Hacking the city of the future

What happens when hackers get hacked? The headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is located between the cities of Washington and Baltimore. Amongst its many operations the NSA develops hacking tools for spying on other countries. But some of these tools leaked out, and earlier this year were turned on the city of … Continue reading

The twist of the pen

“The application of a new force during the process of writing is usually accompanied by a twisting of the tip of the pen and a deviation from the already-established path into a new twist” (165). That’s a quote about calligraphic writing from Reza Negarestani, author of Cyclonopedia. The twist of the pen serves as leitmotif … Continue reading

Don’t go into the crypt!

Those who couldn’t fight, or were too important to lose in battle were told to hide in the crypt of the capital for safety. Meanwhile those above ground battled the White Walkers and their army of the dead (called “wights”). Zombie logic I wasn’t following Game of Thrones closely enough to realise that the crypt … Continue reading

Apocalypse then

The science fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906-1972) retells a short horror story (attributed originally to Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1836-1907]). It goes as follows: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” That’s reputedly the shortest horror story ever written. It’s apocalyptic. It’s about the last human … Continue reading

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