Sunday, October 21, 2012

Signs? Sig(h)ns.

If you know me at all, or have followed this blog, you know that I am a proponent of multimodality.  I love teaching about, learning about, using and advocating multiple modes in the classroom.  I also propose that we pay attention to the modes around us outside of the classroom.  I do worry, though, that  the world depends so greatly on signs.  Just like we have multiple interpretations of words, we, too, have multiple interpretations of signs.

Just a few minutes ago, I logged into my blogger account so that I could read some more of my students' blogs.  I have decided to follow all their blogs, so that when I log into dashboard...there they are.  The problem...I can never remember how to log in to my dashboard. I typically have to click two or three places before it shows up.  It wasn't until a few minutes ago, that I clicked on the white B in the orange box.  To me...that logo meant "blogger" and I assumed it was going to take me to the home page.  Makes sense right? But because I was logged in, it took me to my dashboard.  I could swear that when I started this blog almost a year ago, there was an actual link to dashboard.  I mean the word "dashboard" was underlined.  So I am used to clicking on the word.  Not the logo for blogger.

So...why the change? The same thing happened to me a few years back.  I wanted to delete an e-mail from my g-mail account.  Typcially, I would click on the box to the left of the e-mail...go to the top and click on the word "delete."  I swear, it took me longer than it should have to eventually figure out that they replaced this with an icon of a garbage can.  Now, why did I never click on the garbage can?  Because in another e-mail program, the garbage can led you to your deleted e-mails.  So in one e-mail program the garbage can was literally the place where your "deleted" e-mails or "garbage" was found.  And in another e-mail program, you had to click on the garbage can to delete your message.

So here is the issue.  One sign means two different things.  When there are words, it is much simpler.  You know the meaning.  But with symbols, it might take multiple attempts or some practice to understand what they mean.

I truly believe we are becoming more sign-based because we are a global society.  The plus side to using images is that they are (most often) universal.  But the negative side is that even signs can have different meanings depending on one's prior knowledge.

I pose no question.  I just wanted to rant about signs for a moment.  While I do love teaching about understanding signs and other modes, I too, get tripped up from time to time.


  1. Glad to know you get lost sometimes too!!!!

  2. This kind of connects but kind of doesn't, but as I was reading I thought about how fast paced our society is. We want everything so quickly handed to us that words tend to get shortened or even lost. Logos replace the words. Any way...somehow I connected this to the idea that we are in so much of a hurry that even when we talk to each other we miss out on certain things. Also, we rely so heavily on context clues that we could just not pay attention to some things and keep on going. Today, in my Historical Development of the English Language course, we discussed this a little bit. We also listened to some audio of the differences. When we pronunce something different than it should be we can still understand what is being referred to by its context. Another thing that just popped into my head as I was typing is: Wehn we are gevin a wrod wtih totllay dfifreent spleling in the mdidle we can sitll raed it bceusae we raed so qiuckly. We tend to keep on moving...symbols, signs, logos makes this even quicker to accomplish.