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Illuminating History by Lily Díaz, 25.IX.2000

"What, from a standard positivist point of view, is considered to be a source of bias, becomes in this perspective a methodological trump card...due to his/her involvement in the object, the researcher will raise new questions, discover new approaches... [and maybe] ...produce new theoretical models."8 1

Another approach that leans towards a scientific formulation of design, is that one referred to as product semantics. This is a relatively recent development, and an on- going project in design. It is based on the premise that "people surround themselves with objects that make sense to them."8 2A definition of product semantics entails: 1) the development of a second-order science that allows for the systematic exploration and analysis of the diverse ways in which people interact with artefacts, 2) the development of a practical methodology that aids in the process of designing artefacts and provides with compelling justifications its the results.8 3In product semantics, the old adage of Form equals Function translates to Form equals Meaning. This is because in product semantics, meaning does not stem from the object itself, but rather, from the way in which users "embed an artefact into the context of their understanding"8 4of themselves, their world, and other human beings.

In product semantics, objects and artefacts always exist within a context. This latter can be seen as a cognitively constructed relationship in which features, real or imagined, are brought together into a coherent unity. This relationship is one that can be constructed from a linguistic perspective, and through the use of tools, such as classification, and metaphoric devices.

Product semantics does not propose a single theory of meaning. Instead, four essentially different contexts in which objects might mean in a different way have been proposed as fertile grounds from which powerful theories of meaning might emerge. These are the

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IMAGE imgs/index47.gif University of Art and Helsinki UIAH, 1998. P., 67.
81. Findeli, A., "Will Design Ever Become a Science?...", P., 68. 82. Krippendorf, 158.
83. Krippendorf, 158.
84. NFS, 42.