The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design

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CRC Press, Dec 21, 2005 - Technology & Engineering - 368 pages
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Responding to cultural demands for meaning, user-friendliness, and fun as well as the opportunities of the emerging information society, The Semantic Turn boldly outlines a new science for design that gives designers previously unavailable grounds on which to state their claims and validate their designs. It sets the stage by reviewing the history of semantic concerns in design, presenting their philosophical roots, examining the new social and technological challenges that professional designers are facing, and offering distinctions among contemporary artifacts that challenge designers.

Written by Klaus Krippendorff, recognized designer and distinguished scholar of communication and language use, the book builds an epistemological bridge between language/communication theory and human-centered conceptions of contemporary artifacts. Clarifying how the semantic turn goes beyond product semantics and differs from other approaches to meaning, Krippendorff develops four new theories of how artifacts make sense and presents a series of meaning-sensitive design methods, illustrated by examples, and evaluative techniques that radically depart from the functionalist and technology-centered tradition in design.

An indispensable guide for the future of the design profession, this book outlines not only a science for design that encourages asking and answering new kinds of questions, it also provides concepts and a vocabulary that enables designers to better partner with the more traditional disciplines of engineering, ergonomics, ecology, cognitive science, information technology, management, and marketing.

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User Review  - jonas.lowgren - LibraryThing

Krippendorff argues for a human-centered view on design, where the core notion is meaning as created in use. He outlines a historical progression in the traditional design disciplines from product ... Read full review


1 History and Aim
2 Basic Concepts of Humancentered Design
3 Meaning of Artifacts in Use
4 Meaning of Artifacts in Language
5 Meaning in the Lives of Artifacts
6 Meaning in an Ecology of Artifacts
7 Design Methods Research and a Science for Design
8 Distantiations
9 Roots in the Ulm School of Design?
About the Author

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Page 42 - Man is the measure of all things, of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not.
Page 97 - The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.
Page 92 - Part 1 1 of this international standard defines usability as 'the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use'.
Page 28 - The natural sciences are concerned with how things are. Design on the other hand is concerned with how things ought to be, with devising artifacts to attain goals.
Page 113 - The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. The verb to afford is found in the dictionary, but the noun affordance is not. I have made it up. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment.
Page 23 - The philosophers have only interpreted the world in ' different ways ; the point is to change it.
Page 59 - Thus semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell...
Page 116 - target" concept A to be understood for some purpose in some context. - There is a conceptual structure containing both A and another concept B. - B is either part of A or closely associated with it in that conceptual structure. Typically, a choice of B will uniquely determine A, within that conceptual structure. - Compared to A , B is either easier to understand, easier to remember, easier to recognize, or more immediately useful for the given purpose in the given context. - A metonymic model is...
Page 27 - Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for...
Page 29 - In terms of the prevailing norms, academic respectability calls for subject matter that is intellectually tough, analytic, formalizable, and teachable. In the past, much, if not most, of what we knew about design and about the artificial sciences was intellectually soft, intuitive, informal, and cookbooky.

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About the author (2005)

Klaus Krippendorff (PhD in Communication, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1967) is Professor of Communication and Gregory Bateson Term Professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. Besides numerous publications in journals of communication, sociological methodology, cybernetics, and system theory, he authored "Information Theory, Structural Models for Qualitative Data", a "Dictionary of Cybernetics", edited "Communication and Control in Society", and coedited "The Analysis of Communication Content and Developments and Scientific Theories and Computer Techniques".

Besides supporting various initiatives to develop content analysis techniques and continuing work on reliability measurement, Klaus Krippendorff's current interest is fourfold: With epistemology in mind, he inquires into how language brings forth reality. As a critical scholar, he explores the conditions of entrapment and liberation. As a second-order cybernetician, he plays with recursive constructions of self and others in conversations; and as designer, he attempts to move the meaning and human use of technological artifacts into the center of design considerations, causing a redesign of design - all of them exciting projects.

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