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The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 24, Issue 1/3, 2008

Biosemiotics

Fabius Leineweber, Marcella Faria
Pages 125-144

Computer-Mediated Communication in Biology

Increasingly, biologists are using computers to model and to create biological representations. However, the exponential growth in available biological data poses a challenge for experimental and theoretical researchers in both Biology and in Computer Science. In short, when even the simple retrieval of relevant biological information for a researcher becomes a complex task — its analysis and synthesis with other biological information will become even more daunting and unlikely. In this context, specially organized ‘structures of representation’ are needed for the efficient interpretation of experimentally generated data. The “semantic Web” is a recent trend in networking techniques that we will examine here as a possible strategy for the computation of biological data — one that may allow us to take into account both the semiotic dimensions of biological processes, as well as their dynamic organization into stable and systemic levels. Thereupon, we propose that a semantic network for biology could benefit from principles rooted in such previous representation efforts as computer-generated ‘landscapes’ and ‘physical attractors’ — and that such principles could, in turn, then be better integrated into biological research through the development of a more semiotically informed user / computer interface design.

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