Coyne is an architect by training and attempts to bring a design-oriented and spatial understanding to his research and writing on digital themes.
Coyne is author of several books on the implications of information technology and design, published by MIT Press and Routledge. His work is strongly influenced by the writings of the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer on hermeneutics and interpretation theory, particularly as developed by Coyne's colleague Adrian Snodgrass in the 1990s, and with whom he co-authored the book Interpretation in Architecture: Design as a Way of Thinking. Coyne’s work often returns to an appeal to a “commonsense” view that we are interpretive beings, in community and operating in a practical context. He articulates the pragmatic thread in his book Designing Information Technology in the Postmodern Age: From Method to Metaphor, a theme picked up by HCI researchers such as John McCarthy and Peter Wright, and in which he indicates a debt to Winograd and Flores’ work.
Much of Coyne’s work is stimulated by interaction with music colleagues and students within a suite of one-year MScs: Design and Digital Media, Sound Design and Digital Media and Culture. He also works with PhD students investigating science fiction and architecture, virtual reality, surveillance, haptic interfaces, robotics and other themes.