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This conference paper was originally published as:

Phare, D., Gu, N., Williams, A. P., & Laughland, C. (2013). A semiotic framework to understand how signs in a collective design task convey information: A pilot study of design in an open crowd context. In M. A. Schnabel (Ed.), Cutting edge: 47th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association. Paper presented at the Architectural Science Association, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 13-16 November (pp. 473–482). Sydney, Australia: The Architectural Science Association.


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A leading factor in reshaping boundaries between participatory design and co-creation is the power of crowd-sourcing; however crowd sourced design often produces less innovative results than smaller expert design teams. In design, representation plays a fundamental role whilst in crowd sourced design the collective interaction with representations is restricted. We propose more effective design in collective intelligence lies in the crowd’s ability to generate meaningful contributions via the content of shared representations. In order to investigate this, the current paper examines how meanings are generated through the use of visual representations. We introduce a semiotic framework to understand the mechanisms of how signs convey con-textual information in a collective design task, and illustrate the framework by applying it in an analysis of the signs used by the crowd engaging in an openly shared design task.


Used by permission: The Architecture Science Association

At the time of writing Anthony Williams was affiliated with the University of Newcastle.

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