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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 487 posts for Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture

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

I am not a statistic!

“Don’t become a statistic!” That was the warning teachers and parents would direct at young drivers some years ago, when news broadcasts used to feature weekly road casualty figures. The psychologist Carl Jung amplified the despair of associating the human with a number: “If, …, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has … Continue reading

Obfuscation and its remedies

He “took every step that he could to try to obfuscate, to try to get people to lie, tried to reward those people who refused to cooperate with a legitimate investigation, tried to punish and denigrate the people who were cooperative” (The Hill). That’s how the former Watergate special prosecutor (Richard Ben-Veniste) summarised the Mueller … Continue reading

Too much information

Someone (perhaps Slavoj Žižek) said that Trump’s greatest offence is not that he breaks the law, but that he breaks unwritten norms and conventions. There’s no law that says you have to be polite to everyone, say kind things, always be truthful, apologise when you make a mistake, or give credit where it’s due. Stick … Continue reading

Obfuscate!

Why do zebras have stripes? The stripes aren’t very successful as camouflage. If anything, a stripy lone zebra stands out against the grassland. But any single zebra will blend in with the herd when they stand together. It’s harder to tell where one zebra ends and the next one starts. As they approach the herd, … Continue reading

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

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