Editorial: In the Loop

By Paul Bouissac

As the Open Semiotics Research Center is bracing to launch new web-resources such as the Virtual Lab and the Journal of Evolutionary Semiotics, a look at the epistemological, sociological, and statistical significance of the www.semioticon.com is in order. What has been achieved, and where do we go from there, are natural questions to be asked after seven years of operation.

Let us consider first what the statistics tell us. We subscribe to The Counter, a company that keeps track of the origin and number of visitors and regular users, and provides comparative data. In 2001, the Open Semiotics Resource Center was used by 877 persons. The following year, they were 4121. In 2007, the users numbered 9134. They were 856 in January 2008.

The Counter provides figures sorted out by the users’ countries of origin whenever their IP (Internet Protocol) addresses include this information, such as .de (for Germany), .mx (for Mexico), or .id (for Indonesia). The .com, .net, and .edu can not be assigned with certainty to any particular countries as they are available worldwide, although we can assume that the .edu generally refers to an address in the USA. There are also a large number of users (8914) classified as “unknown” because they have unregistered IP addresses.

All this being taken into consideration, and keeping in mind that English is the working language of our website, let us glance at the semiotic map of the world as it relates to the number of regular users: Australia: 1519; United Kingdom: 1406; Italy: 1141; France: 859; The Netherlands: 645; Germany: 577; Greece: 527; Brazil: 442; Poland: 413; Mexico: 379; Japan: 335. Then for the range 300 to 100 come Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia, Romania, Spain, New Zealand, Indonesia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Turkey, Norway, Russian Federation, Austria, Portugal, Hong Kong, Israel, Hungary, Malaysia, Slovakia, India. The last 74 countries documented in the statistics (from Singapore to Iran) range from 91 to 1 users (the latter category including Tuvalu, Lesotho, Fiji, Greenland, Côte d’ivoire, Honduras, Armenia, Gabon, Aruba, Cook Island, Botswana, Nepal, and Iran, countries where it is encouraging to learn that there is at least one semiotician. It should be noted however that some countries that were for several years in the “one user category” quite suddenly experienced a surge, such as Morocco and Saudi Arabia, now respectively having registered 89 and 22 users. The illustration presents a snapshot of these statistics at the time of the publication of this issue of SemiotiX.

Semioticon web stats

Regarding the sociological impact of the website, it is obvious that the large number of email addresses and URLs provided in its various sections has promoted a high level of global communication among semioticians, and the resulting emergence of international networks sustained by common scholarship interests. Those in the loop certainly appreciate the constant flow of information in the form of advanced lectures, regularly updated calendars of events, publishing opportunities, and the many pointers to hot spots of innovative research and methodological resources, such as the recent addition to the PULSE of websites dealing with the anthropology of birdsongs, visual languages, and theories of anticipation. The epistemological development of semiotics depends indeed on the capacity of connecting parallel directions of innovative research that run the risk to never meet. Our website endeavors to provide those in the loop (that is, anybody who so wishes since admission is free and the URL doors are wide open) with a chance to enjoy the surprises of serendipity.