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VAKOCH DOUGLAS A., Signs of Life beyond Earth: A Semiotic Analysis of Interstellar Messages , Leoanrdo, Vol.31, N°4, pp.313-319, 1998

Previous proposals for wommunicating with extraterrestrials have relied heavilyon pictorial messages, regardless of whether communication is via electromagneticradiation or by spacecraft-borne messages. Pictorial messages can be categorizedaccording to whether the pictures can be shown directly or whether they mustfirst be formatted. The author discusses the advantages of direct representationsand critiques the universality of pictorial representation. He proposes analternative to the use of pictures to communicate, drawing on semioticdistinctions. With the author's approach, icnonic representations -in whichthe sign bears a physical similarity to th at which it represents- are showndirectly, rather than in a format that must be reconstructed or decoded.This method of communication is illustrated with messages based onquantum-mechanical phenomena. The advantages of having the content ofa message reflected in the form of the message are detailed.


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