The semiotic efficency of systems.

Tim Oren [my emboldening]:

“Having spent some years working with unstructured text and hypertext databases, I’m willing to suggest that the core notion of semiotics is in fact a useful engineering maxim, a True Theory of how humans behave in the context of symbolic systems.

Like the laws of thermodynamics in energy systems, semiotics proposes a hard limit to the efficiency of any situation involving externalized representations of human thought.

You can process character strings or other computational representations as long as you want, but just as the map is not the territory, the symbol is not the thought of its author, nor the thought elicited in an eventual reader. Even if all the ambiguity inherent in messy languages like English were eliminated, this would remain.

I like the idea of saying to a client: “you’re looking at the blueprints of a graphical machine with estimated 98.8% semiotic efficiency, and the only exhaust products are a small stream of delighted sighs, quite harmless to the information environment”

» Tim Oren/Due Diligence: Metadata, Semiotics, and the Tower of Babel

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See also, “Semiotics: a primer for designers” on boxesandarrows.com. Umberto raps: “Don’t be idiotic! Study semiotics!”

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