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I was reading the “some aspect of sign” by Thwaites, Davis, & Mules. The “functions of address” it talked about provided a clear way to understand the “interaction” between sender and receiver, which equivalent to designer and user in design.

It was always a pain to think about the relationship and “interaction” between designer and users and their interpretation of each other, because they don’t directly communicate with each other but by the media of product. It could become frustrating when you trying to understand the “communication” between them two by themselves psychologically. However, using the methods in this article, we avoid this pain by two separations – “the separation of addresser from sender and addressee from receiver is what lets us do semiotics rather than psychology”. The understanding of interaction between sender and receiver then became the one of addresser and addressee, the understanding of “sign’s function of address”.

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I enjoyed reading the second chapter from Barnard’s book. Particularly because it discusses two different approaches of understanding visual culture – the hermeneutic and the structural.

What I find interesting is how beautifully these approaches, though contrasting, complement each other and we as designers use them cosciously or subconssciously all the time!

An example that comes to my mind is, that of designing ‘content and visually rich’ websites. I dunno if this is a good example, but since I have had some considerable experience with assisting a web designer back in India, in the past, I choose to mention it. While designing websites, we follow structural approach to make meaningful categories/sections and subsections for content. This categorization follows a structural logic beneath it and holds true for most individuals irrespective of having varied interpretations of the meaning of the content. At the same time, we also use a semiotic approach in using appropriate icons to represent certain structural elements. Here we often draw parallels between those structural elements and our own interpretation of those elements in ‘our life-world’.

Can semiotic approach then be considered a hermeneutic one or a blend of both structure and hermeneutics?