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Coyne

Cornucopia Limited


Design and Dissent on the Internet

MIT Press





The network economy presents itself in the transactions of electronic
commerce, finance, business, and communications. The network economy is also a
social condition of discontinuity, indefinite limits, and in-between spaces. In
Cornucopia Limited, Richard Coyne uses the liminality of design -- its uneasy
position between creativity and commerce -- to explore the network economy. He
argues that design, with its open-ended and transgressive explorations, provides a
new way to think about the world of commerce; design's inter-territorial precinct,
its in-between condition, offers a way to frame the problems of the Internet economy
-- for profit vs. for free, private vs. public, security vs. open access, defense
vs. permeability.Design, says Coyne, has a natural affinity with the edge condition
and the position between polar opposites. Edgy design starts with an idea, brings to
mind its opposite, and then works with what emerges from the friction between the
two. The designer of a Web portal, for example, might take on the problem of
security by focusing on the limits of permeability. Design is edgy, and risky,
argues Coyne, in the same way that breaches in network security are risky. In
Cornucopia Limited he examines the threshold between conditions exemplified by the
boundary between design and commerce. Coyne uses five metaphors of design to develop
his argument: the household (in economics, historically opposed to the market), with
its relationship to the street mediated by various portals; the machine, rampant and
glitchy; the game, competitive but simulated; the gift, precursor to commerce; and
the threshold. The threshold condition, Coyne says, is the site of edgy design and a
portal into the new. The threshold, he argues, provides the most potent metaphor for
understanding the liminal dwellers of the network economy.
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Coyne, Richard
Richard Coyne is Professor and Chair of Architectural Computing at the University
of Edinburgh. He is the author of four other books published by the MIT Press,
including The Tuning of Place: Sociable Spaces and Pervasive Digital
Media.


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