Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


This paper presents semiotics as a framework for understanding and designing computer systems as sign systems. Although semiotic methods can be applied to all levels of computer systems, they view computer systems under a particular perspective, namely as targets of interpretations. When we need to see computer systems as automata, semiotics has little to offer. The main focus of the paper is semiosis, the process of sign formation and interpretation. The paper discusses different semiotic paradigms, and advocates the European structuralist paradigm in combination with the American Peircean tradition. Programming is described as a process of sign-creation, and a semiotic approach to programming is compared to the object-oriented method. The importance of the work situation as a context of interpretation is emphasized.