The Semiotic Engineering Research Group

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Semiotic Engineering

Semiotic Engineering was originally proposed, in 1993, as a semiotic approach for the design of user interface languages. Over the years, with research developed at the Departament of Informatics at PUC-Rio, it evolved into a full-fledged theory of human-computer interaction (HCI). According to this theory, HCI is a specific case of social communication between humans, mediated by computer technologies. Technically, this phenomenon is framed and investigated as metacommunication, a mediated conversation between technology designers and builders, on the one side, and technology users, on the other. The conversation achieved by user interfaces - which work like proxies of those who have created them - communicates, through all the possibilities created for users at design and development time, the beliefs and expectations that designers and developers have about their targeted users. It also communicates the opportunities, values and experiences that designers (whether intentionally or not) expose and enable to other people through the technology they produce.

Since 2015, Semiotic Engineering started to explore aspects of Software Engineering, in addition to HCI, thus entering the field of Human-Centered Computing. The results of this move have been published in the book called Software Developers as Users - Semiotic Investigations in Human Centered Development » (Springer. 2016). In it, we introduce the SigniFYI Suite, a collection of concepts and techniques designed to trace the presence of human meanings inscribed in software.

The reference works for the theory are two internationally published books, that of 2005 (The Semiotic Engineering of Human-Computer Interaction », MIT Press) and that of 2009 (Semiotic Engineering methods for scientific research in HCI », Morgan & Claypool).


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