The spectral sign: a cybernetic perspective on digital conversations

  • Marco Toledo Bastos University of São Paulo


This paper discusses the idea of a spectral sign in relation to the concept of multilogue (Shank 1993) and crosstalk (Crystal 2001), a discussion largely based upon linguistic and semiotic contexts. In short, spectral sign is the outcome of an operation that corrupts the semiotic structure of a sign, replacing instead of adding units of meaning. From a linguistic point of view, the spectral sign relies on the effects of communication technologies that challenge the dyadic representation of a sign. Instead of relating to another sign to perform a paired circle, spectral sign connects a diversity of circles that are not immediately accessible in a semiotic context. From a cybernetic point of view, this interplay represents negative feedback between observer and observed and reveals digital meaning as being simultaneously two: one related to the source, and the other to the receiver.

Author Biography

Marco Toledo Bastos, University of São Paulo

Postdoctoral fellow at the University of São Paulo. Researcher at the Center for Philosophical Studies of Communication at the University of São Paulo and the Research Network of Media Anthropology at the University of Frankfurt.