K. Krippendorff. Meaning of artifacts in language.Chapter four of The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design. Taylor & Francis Group. 2006. pp. 147-176.

The fourth chapter approaches the meaning of artifacts from the perspective of language. From this perspective the use of artifacts is only a small part of their life. Artifacts are discussed already before they exists and they can also be discussed after there are no physical products left. Language is also the only access the designers have to users’ understanding of their designs. The chapter sees “language as a process of coordinating the perceptions and actions of its speakers”. From this premise, the chapter further develops five concepts that can be useful to designers:

  • Categories: ‘The designers need to understand the existing categories but not to be restricted by them’.
  • Characters: ‘The designers should be primarily concerned with what and how the stakeholders of the designs see when they look at the design’.
  • Identities: ‘The designers has to be responsive to stakeholders’ multiple identities’.
  • Verbal metaphors: ‘Metaphors can render artifacts understandable and bring new perspectives to perceiving them’.
  • Narratives: ‘The interfaces with artifacts should correlate with the narrative structures of how one can explain what these artifacts can do and how users can interface with them’.
  • Culture: ‘Designers should become cognizant of the conversations that enable them to create their designs, continue well after they have done their part, and ultimately impact a culture’.