Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces - Vol. 1

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Communicating Entities: a Semiotic-Based
Methodology for Interface Design

Osvaldo Luiz de Oliveira, Maria Cecilia Calani Braranauskas

São Francisco University-USF, State University of Campinas-UNICAMP


1
Introduction

An important idea underlying this paper is that computer systems can be understood as media, i.e., they are technological engines that mediate our communication and as such they are used to transmit information, knowledge, feelings and requests, to allow conversation, entertainment etc.. In this sense, computers should not be compared to tools, as it is often the case, but to books, theatre, movies, telephone, newspapers and so on.. We are not referring to communication-based applications like electronic mail, video-conference, or applications classified as Groupware and CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), for which the media role becomes evident. We refer to any type of software.

Essentially being media, computer systems are used to transmit signs among human beings. The concept of sign is the very heart of the previous statement. A sign is something that stands for another thing, for somebody, under certain aspects ( Peirce 1974). Any mark, physical movement, symbol, token etc., used to indicate and convey thoughts, information and commands constitute a sign.

The study of the signs and the way they work in the production of meanings is denominated Semiotics. Santaella ( 1996) argues that Semiotics proposes to view the world as a language. She doesn't only refer to the spoken or written verbal languages, but to all other types of language: deaf-and-dumb language, dance, cookery, fashion, rituals of primitive tribes, music, sculptures, scenography, hieroglyph, dreams, wind etc.. Semiotics investigates all possible languages as a phenomenon of meaning-making.

In this paper we used Semiotics to support a methodology development for interface design. In section 2 we discuss semiotic principles underlying the

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