Chapter 20. The Materials of Semantic Function

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

—LEWIS CARROLL, THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS

My cow is not pretty, but it’s pretty to me.

—DAVID LYNCH

Elements

TO ADDRESS HOW INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE COMPOSES CONTEXT, we need to look at what materials the practice requires for designing environments. What are the elements that it uses—the bricks and mortar, studs and joists—that create the joinery of coherently nested places? ...

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