Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Semiotics - Gabriella DiFulvio

"Every single thing has meaning and gives a different message depending on where it is located and who sees it."

This excerpt from the reading struck me as interesting when I began to think deeper about the meaning Semiotics plays in our daily lives. As a communications major I am constantly asked to examine how certain things in communication translate to certain people. A particular example that came to mind has to do with my family. My father was born in Italy and came here when he was about 20 years old. Growing up on a farm in Italy, it was obviously a big adjustment for him but since he came here at a younger age it was easier for him then say my grandmother. She has been here for over 30 years now but she still refuses to give up her traditional Italian traditions. Although she can understand English, she can only speak a few words. If we were to spend an entire day together viewing the symbols, I wonder what different messages each of us would interpret? An ad for nutella would obviously have different meaning to her then it would for me because nutella is much more popular in Europe then in America. It may bring back memories of family gatherings for her, whereas I associate it with a favorite dessert of mine that is originally from France. This example is just one of the many I can think of that relates back to the excerpt above. Every individual has different experiences and memories that they associate with an image or message they see, and semiotics explores this even further.

Daniel Speers

Semiotics is the study or the science of signs and sign systems of all kinds. It involves the creation of signs; communicating through sign; the forming of signs into codes; the social function of signs; the meaning of signs. In a way we are all students of semiotics because it applies to all areas of culture and human beings can not escape its grasp regardless of where they are in the world. The most interesting part of semiotics to me is the complexity of the message. Denotation and Connotation work together to find the literal meanings and the implied meanings that must be discovered through interpretation.

The Semiotic Method

I couldn't agree with Hobbs' quote from 1997 more.

"As we enter the twenty first century, it is essential that the schools be places that help students better understand the complex, symbol-rich culture in which they live in. A new vision of literacy is essential if educators are serious about the broad goals of education: preparing students to function as informed and effective citizens in a democratic society; preparing students to realize personal fulfillment; and preparing students to function effectively in a rapidly changing world that demands new, multiple literacies."

I feel semiotics is more important now than ever in our culture. Especially in a culture that is continuously changing at an exponential rate. We are constantly being bombarded with images and suggestions, and many times people just take them for what they are, without thinking twice. It is important to understand the connotations and denotations associated with [popular culture] words and expressions for the sake of communication.
I feel it is especially important to read into and analyze these messages because we really can't trust where they come from. In a world of media conglomerates, just about everything we see on television has a hidden message or agenda within. Even our entertainment is laced with ideas and product promotion. Everything is about selling something, whether it be an idea or a product, its usually about maximizing someone's profits. I feel it is really important though to constantly be reading between the lines, to see what an advertisement is really trying to sell you. For example, the health club that tries to sell the idea that you'll find a young, beautiful, physically fit girl at the club, rather than the idea of a healthier you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Semiotics - Dave Cowden

One of the first things that came to mind when reading the article from Signs of Life was the usage of semiotics in the advertising world. It is briefly mentioned regarding an ad to a gym and how we as viewers perceive this. In this case, I feel that semiotics is relevant to all commercial advertisements. We may be influenced to feel and think a certain way when seeing advertisements that are of interest to us. I agree with the article that it is important to hone the skill of analyzing signs like this in every day life. We are surrounded by so many influences that learning to read into them is essential.

Take this logo, for example. Many may not notice the white arrow that exists between the "e" and the "x", pointing to the right. This may be of some subliminal use hinting that FedEx is always heading in the right direction. Learning to depict these uses of semiotics gives a deeper meaning to everyday images that surround us.


I think the most important line in the text was the following: "Every single thing has meaning and gives a different message depending on where it is located and who sees it." This I feel sums up semiotics as a whole, because we take symbols that are used elsewhere or create ones that are only logical in that context. Just an obvious example, but where else would "@" be logical except when to use it in an email address? Sure now I know a lot of people who handwrite it out, but that was only after the fact that it was created in this internet driven society. Semiotics are so great because they convey messages but while still letting the interpreter be the author of the specific vernacular. For instance the christian cross has similar meaning for many people, but everyone does not express those emotions the same way. But words are only meant to convey emotions anyway, so if we can eliminate that aspect, then it sure makes things a lot faster in this accelerated digital age. But, now that I think about it, aren't letters just more complex semiotics? They are symbols that convey the meaning of words (when combined however)...just something to think about.

Semiotics--Matt Regan

The Semiotic Method is something I find extremely interesting. It definitely helps you realize the deeper meaning within advertisements and things such as political ads. I think that more people should be educated on how it works so that they too can understand even just the basics. I am glad that we were assigned these readings. Our current culture is strongly media driven and it is the media who in a way controls us. With the knowledge of the semiotic method you can teach yourself to look deeper into an ad and see if it really is what you want or if it’s the tactic and set up of the ad that makes you think you want whatever it is selling. With this I can be much smarter when it comes to decisions being driven by ads or other types of media with hidden meanings.

Semiotics-Adam Bonanni

I think semiotics is a fun and interesting way of looking at the world around us. Being an English major, most of the fun I get from exploring narratives (movies, books, video games) is looking for allusions or hidden meanings beneath the surface. I agree there cannot be one concrete meaning that fits every object that we know.
Interestingly, like the article says, the best way to understand semiotics is through examples as opposed to a definition or lecture since the defenitions are a bit vague. I also think it's a bit of a stretch when the Semiotics of New Media Literacy article moves into discussing the link between science and Semiotics. Maybe this part wasn't clear to me, how this theory relates to animals, but I understand how it works relating to New Media and literary arts

Semiotics - Michael Hearn

Having read a little bit about semiotics in a previous Sociology class, I understood what these two articles were explaining about the idea of symbols having a perceived effect on people. Much like the article "The Semiotic Method", I mostly read about semiotics involved in advertisement, how advertisement companies and ad campaigns specifically target certain audiences or show appeal to specific desires or standards that we feel should be met by what we want to purchase. The more obvious examples are good looking people on ads for health products, or cool and extreme sports activities on energy drink campaigns. Semiotics can also be more deceptive or subtle in their use in advertisement, and in some ways that can lead to controversy. A good example is how Camel cigarettes advertised their product with a camel character who was carefully designed to appear cartoonish enough to appeal to kids. Semiotics also plays a very large role in how people judge or are affected to other people due to things such as fashion or appearance. Since symbols continue to affect people in ways they might not initially understand, semiotics is clearly an important study since it can help explain why specific symbols or appearances cause the reactions they do, and could help people realize why exactly they're being affected like they are. Of course, it also could be used to secure a career in advertisement.

Semiotics-John Curall

I feel like these were very important readings for us given our media saturated world. We can't go very long or very far without getting exposed to media images. They all have a hidden meaning. Whether that meaning is helpful or hurtful remains to be seen. Sometimes the author's of these images may not even realize the hidden message that is being conveyed. Nevertheless, the hidden meaning is there, even in things that at first glance would seem harmless. For example, one of our author's mentioned health club ads, this made me think of college brochures. I have seen many college brochures over the years, yet I can't recall seeing one that didn't have really good looking people on it. Is this by chance? Or is there a hidden message? We can all be influenced. That is why we must always make a conscious effort to think about these images and not take them a face value. In the end that is all we can really do in order to make better informed choices. Sometimes were still going to influenced, but we have to put the choice back in our own hands as much as possible.

Semiotics - Rob Stone

"When analyzing any popular cultural phenomenon, always ask yourself questions like these: Why does this thing look the way it does? Why are they saying this? Why am I doing this? What are they really saying? What am I really doing? In short, take nothing for granted when analyzing any image or activity."

This passage from the first text on semiotics summed up my thought process whenever viewing something that has been created for consumption, be it a television show, a billboard, or just the shape of a shampoo bottle. This act of constantly questioning is simply part of being a critical, analytic thinker. If we aren't looking at why things are the way they are (even though this can lead to false conclusions by way of assumption), then we are doing nothing more than accepting what is presented to us at face value.

Semiotics -- Jesse Papineau

Semiotics are ever present in all people's lives, even if they that person is unaware of it. Symbols show up in all facets of life, the most common being corporate logos that are seen in restaurants, on television and on clothing. It makes perfect sense that there would be a “science” behind why certain logos draw people's attention, however it's a bit intimidating that logos can have such power. However, animals can also be drawn to / turned off by certain signs or symbols that appear in nature – clearly semiotics are present in all parts of life.

Semiotics - Nick Sulikowski

My feelings about Semiotics were that, in looking at how a person dresses, I was pretty consciously assessing what ideology that person might hold. Contrary to the notion that the article presents, which is that semiotics is unconscious, I am pretty aware of how I think of a person because of the way they dress.

What did interest me was that there was a word for this. I also think the concept is pretty interesting. The idea that so many subliminal messages can go into an ad or fashion design, either consciously or unconsciously, is fascinating. In some cases it can be almost like a form of brainwashing, secretly guiding people's actions.


I think the idea of semantics is also interesting, more now than ever. This term has seemed to have spread into the world of the media and Internet communication as this has now become our primary source of communication. Because of the Internet it is now plausible for one to speak coherently to someone in a different country without speaking the same language. I just think it's great that the idea of Semiotics brings the world into more of a global community.

Practical Semiotics & Assumptions

When I was over at a friend's place this weekend, I met a friend of theirs and we had a short conversation. The usual "so what do you do?" question came up, and I told him that I'm a Film and Media Arts major. He replied that he had thought I was an art major of some kind before we started talking. As I was walking home, I began to wonder why he assumed that. Was it my attitude? My blue hoodie? The way I talk?

It's funny when you pass someone or actually meet someone, because people often judge others and make assumptions based on how they look. Had I been dressed differently, he might not have assumed what he did about me. Semiotics at least helps us put a finger on why these ideas occur to us: patterns, combinations, and juxtapositions help inform us and ingrain preconceptions so we have less associating to do all the time. But these conceptions are not always correct.


This article was interesting to me because I didn't realize just how much I was using semiotics already, particularly in classes here at temple. I just finished learning about Television in the 1950's. Looking back almost everything I learned was based in semiotics. The TV shows at the time were utilizing semiotics to portray a certain image of America in order to turn us all into consumers, and sell that lifestyle. The author says in the article "But often the ideological interests that guide our social behavior remain concealed behind images that don't look political at all. Consider, for example, the depiction of the "typical" American family in the classic TV sitcoms of the fifties and sixties, particularly all those images of happy, docile housewives. To most contemporary viewers, those images looked "normal" or natural at the time that they were first broadcast--the way families and women were supposed to be. The shows didn't seem at all ideological." What I've been learning in my class is how all of those images were extremely ideological. We've been using semiotics for weeks now to analyze that style of TV, I just never knew it.

Semiotics- Danielle Reedy

After doing this reading I find semiotics really kind of interesting. However, I feel like it’s almost common sense. For instance, when I see teenagers wearing what the newest trends are I do not have to sit around for a long time trying to figure out why they are wearing what they are wearing. It is almost alwa ys because that is what their favorite celebrities are wearing those days. I guess when you get deeper into it and start asking why the celebrities are wearing what they are wearing, then we something to really study.
I like the idea of semiotics and I like the idea that we can find the meaning behind things like TV shows and fashion trends but I don't necessarily agree that everything in popular culture can be analyzed that easily. The reading said that, "all social behavior is political in the sense that it reflects some kind of personal or group interest." That may be true but I do not think that you can always find some deep political meaning behind, "a shirt, a haircut... anything at all". I think sometimes people wear things because it is all they have, for example you might wear a shirt that you don't really like but it was given to you as a gift and you are only wearing it because everything else was dirty. A semiotician would decode that by assuming that you are interested in whatever is on the shirt, but the truth is that is not the truth at all.

Semiotics to the T

The term in itself sounds like a weapon. Symbols have become the weapon in a sense behind advertising. The Temple "T" is a smart campaign. Applying it to various words like "deTermination" goes a long way. I imagine a frustrated freshmen walking down Liacourse Walk only to look up and see inspiring words (even inspiraTion) on his/her travels. The freshmen then lights up with some type of feeling that all will be okay. Maybe on a smaller scale stuff like that happens. However, noticing positive words in association with the university you are attending is reassuring. Advertising aims to strike an emotion to a product. With so much collegiate competition in this economy, the university needs a way to strike emotions with people inside of the school as well as outside.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I never knew there was an actual study or science to the reasoning behind signs and symbols. When I realized what semiotics was I actually thought it was pretty interesting. I've always wondered about commercialism and what catches a specific persons eye and draws them in. It's interesting to think of how much thought goes into a companies advertising campaign or logo just to attract a specific audience. The piece also talks about trends and how certain companies or shows influence the way people dress or act. It shows how much influence they have on society. It's the same way cliques are formed in schools or in other similar environments. I really could never see our society ever getting away from the influence of the products we use or that surround us, it's part of our lives now.

Ryan Bercaw - Semiotics

Semiotics is the term used to cover a wide range of human behaviors deeply rooted in sociology. Due to it's broad meaning, it's hard to briefly describe, but is essentially why we interact the way we do with others, and the clues or symbols that we give off in order to invite or revoke feelings and actions by others. The way we dress, act, and behave all have a specific impact in the way we are perceived. The same goes for animals as well. This is, in short, what semiotics is.

The principles that drive semiotics are impossible to escape throughout even a drab, mundane day. When we dress ourselves, go to a certain store, or eat a certain food, we are putting out a message about ourselves. Even by attempting to not fall into a trend, or not follow one's normal routine, a clear message is perceived by others about how we want to be seen. Semiotics is interesting in that they apply to everyone, everywhere. It's a good subject to read up on as it's impossible to escape.

Semiotics - Charly Joung

Semiotics is a form of interpretation which most people are familiar with in terms of functionality, usage, and methods, but not in the actual word itself. Everyone utilizes semiotics in their everyday life to a certain degree, whether it be in the course of their life at work, school or, probably where most people implement it, in face-to-face interactions with others. The simplest example of semiotics I can think of is when you "judge a book by its cover" in terms of social prejudices of someone based on their appearance. I doubt that there is a person that is not prejudice in some degree. I can be totally honest and say that I do judge books by its covers sometimes. For example, if I see a girl wearing leggings and Uggs and apply semiotics in terms of pop culture, I automatically think "this girl's favorite artist is probably likes Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, her favorite TV show was the O.C., and she liked the movie Twilight." But then one could say that because I think things like that I might be an elitist and then form other notions of me through that initial thought.

Semiotics as a way of talking about media

The concept of trying to analyze an image in every conceivable way through both symbols and your own constrained perception and personal set of experiential goggles is an interesting goal of semiotics. In a way, this method is the only way to really attempt to categorize and understand media as a science rather than simply an opinion.

Similarly, it is something important to consider when attempting cross-cultural studies as well. To be aware of your own biases and the way in which you've been influenced is the best a person can do in regards to trying to remain unbiased.

In truth, it's impossible to be unbiased. Every human being has their own perception. To apply the ideas of semiotics to try and interpret meaning in as complete a way as possible is a good start, though.