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Basic concepts of semiotics, sign in the Peircean and Saussurean views, reasons to study semiotics in the context of HCI (Human Computer Interaction)

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  • Semiotics

    1. 1. Semiotics Edgar Kenji Tanaka
    2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>What is semiotics? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a sign? </li></ul><ul><li>Types of signs </li></ul><ul><li>Why study semiotics? </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    3. 3. What is semiotics? <ul><li>Also called semiology </li></ul><ul><li>Comes from greek semeîon which means sign </li></ul><ul><li>Science which studies the role of signs as part of social life (Saussure) </li></ul><ul><li>Formal doctrine of signs (Peirce) </li></ul><ul><li>Investigates the nature of signs and the laws governing them </li></ul>
    4. 4. Studies in semiotics <ul><li>Semiotics studies are in art, literature, anthropology, mass media, psychoanalysis, biology, education and computers  </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotics are studied by semioticians ( semioticistas in Portuguese) </li></ul>
    5. 5. What is a sign? <ul><li> (Semiotics: the study of signs) </li></ul>
    6. 6. What is a sign? <ul><li>Saussure and Peirce were concerned with the definition of sign </li></ul><ul><li>Words, images, sounds, gestures, objects </li></ul>
    7. 7. Ferdinand de Saussure <ul><li>November 26, 1857 – February 22, 1913 </li></ul><ul><li>Swiss linguist </li></ul><ul><li>Father of the 20-century linguistics </li></ul>
    8. 8. Saussure´s sign definition the form which the sign takes signification the concept it represents
    9. 9. Saussure´s sign definition <ul><li>“ the sign is the whole that results from the association of the signifier with the signified” (Saussure) </li></ul><ul><li>Signified and Signifier are both psychological (form rather than substance) </li></ul><ul><li>Saussure´s model of the sign refers only to a concept and not to a thing </li></ul>
    10. 10. Saussure <ul><li>Example </li></ul>Concept of a tree Word ‘tree’, picture of a tree, pronunciation of ‘tree’
    11. 11. Saussure <ul><li>Example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Signifier – word ‘open’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Signified – that the shop is open for business </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Saussure <ul><li>Same signifier can stand for different signifieds depending on the context </li></ul><ul><li>Saussure was focusing on the linguistic sign (such as a word) </li></ul><ul><li>The link between signified and signifier is arbitrary (nothing ‘treeish’ about word ‘tree’) </li></ul><ul><li>No specific signifier is ‘naturally’ more suited to a signified than another </li></ul><ul><li>Saussure was more concerned about linguistic signs and speech </li></ul>
    13. 13. Charles Sanders Peirce <ul><li>September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914 </li></ul><ul><li>American logician, philosopher, mathematician and scientist </li></ul><ul><li>Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts </li></ul><ul><li>Contributions to philosophy, mathematics, logic and semiotics </li></ul>
    14. 14. Peirce´s sign definition <ul><li>“ Something which stands to somebody for something in respect or capacity” (Peirce) </li></ul>
    15. 15. Peirce´s sign definition <ul><li>Representamen – form which the sign takes (not necessarily material) </li></ul><ul><li>Object – to which the sign refers </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretant – idea, interpretation in mind </li></ul>
    16. 16. 3 classes of signs <ul><li>Symbol – signifier does not resemble the signified (fundamentally arbitrary or purely conventional) </li></ul><ul><li>Icon – signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified </li></ul><ul><li>Index – signifier is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified </li></ul>
    17. 17. Highlights <ul><li>There are no pure icons – there is always na element of cultural convention involved </li></ul><ul><li>Iconic and Indexical signs are more likely to be read as ‘natural’ than symbolic signs. (HCI)  Abstract UI (youtube) </li></ul>
    18. 18. Why should we study semiotics? <ul><li>“ ...writings of semioticians have a reputation for being dense with jargon” </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotics is important because it can help us not to take ‘reality’ for granted as something having a purely objective existence which is independent of human interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Information or meaning is NOT contained in the world </li></ul><ul><li>We live in a world of signs and we have no way of understanding anything except through signs </li></ul><ul><li>Deconstructing and contesting the realities of signs can reveal whose realities are privileged and whose are supressed </li></ul>
    19. 19. Conclusions <ul><li>Peirce´s sign model seems to be more complete than Saussure´s </li></ul><ul><li>Saussure was more concerned with linguistics </li></ul><ul><li>Peirce´s model seems to be more adequate in the HCI context </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotics can help understand signs in computers </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotics can help in anything involving communication such as computer interfaces </li></ul>
    20. 20. Next steps? <ul><li>Search for material involving HCI and semiotics </li></ul><ul><li>... </li></ul>
    21. 21. References <ul><li>Chandler, Daniel, Semiotics for Beginners (chapters 1 and 2) </li></ul>