Steven Johnson, pop-science author, majored in Semiotics as a Brown undergrad. His latest blog entry deals with this "theoretical education" and lead me to Paul Greenberg's article on the Brown Semiotics major.
Greenberg states that "semiotics is about how we derive meaning from context." He goes on to explain the Ferdinand de Saussure, who coined the term, "posited that no word is inherently meaningful. Rather a word is only a 'signifier', i.e. the representation of something, and it must be combined in the brain with the 'signified', or the thing itself, in order to form a meaning-imbued 'sign'."
Having often pondered the role of context, analogy and symbolism in Memetics, Semiotics could prove to be a fascinating tool.
Some online Semiotics resources:
- Daniel Chandler's Semiotics for Beginners
- Semiotics and Media (Related: The male gaze in fashion advertising)
- Semiotics: A Primer for Designers
- Ontology, Metadata, and Semiotics
- Writing With Images
- Cognition and Semiotics
- Creativity and self-organization: contributions from cognitive science and semiotics
- The Self Is A Semiotic Process
Interestingly enough, Magritte's Pipe is a common signifier for the field of Semiotics, because of course, it isn't a pipe.