Ten years ago, I (Andy) wrote a white paper called The Charm of Magpies, and presented it at the UK’s MRS Conference. It was about how ideas propagate and innovation spreads (or doesn’t!) in the insight industry – based on actual evidence! It contained a number of predictions, all of which have proved correct.

One of the areas I was interested in was semiotics, which I’ve always liked.

However, semiotics has never really gone mainstream. It remains largely reliant on days of expert practitioner analysis and interpretation. It has no universally agreed theoretical underpinning; it’s blessed with several different schools of thought; and it has to deal with messy and unstructured data. All of which is part of the fun.

Given all this, I’ve always thought the only way forward for the discipline to become mainstream would be to create frameworks that are quantifiable, empirically provable, and directly replicable using machine learning. Chatting to Andrew Jeavons over the years, who also shares a great interest in semiotics, and a well-known background in software development for research, we agreed something should be done about this. But what?

Quantifying the Implicit

Jump forward to 2017, and the tools are at last becoming available to make this notion of quantitative semiotics computationally viable.

That’s why, after months of thinking and development in between our day jobs, I and my colleagues (now a combination of tech people, analytics experts, and cultural strategists) decided to form Signoi. It’s a new tech start-up using some cutting edge machine learning and proprietary analytical frameworks to surface meaning from muddle – signal from noise.

There are many applications of this particular mathematical witchcraft. Semiotics-wise, one part of our vision is to create a series of simple, intuitive and accurate digital tools for marketers, advertising and comms people, researchers, and cultural analysts, and in so doing demystify and democratise the discipline itself.

Over the coming weeks of development, we’ll share some early examples of what the Signoi engine can do as we build it out. And we’ll hope to show an inspiring new world opening up for commercial semiotic insight at speed and scale, along with some very cool functionality and outputs.

So if you’ve got this far, and you work in advertising, marketing or on the client insight/strategy side of things, we’re now available for running test projects. Doing these helps us all learn and ultimately build a better set of products.

Or perhaps you feel you can bring something else to the party, or are just interested in learning more as it happens?

Just let us know!