Meaning Guide

About this site



This site explores ways of making communication more meaningful.  Much of the content is written from a work-based perspective, as it is drawn from professional experience in business consulting, but the underlying principles can be applied in any context.

There are many books and websites about creating “meaning at work”; by contrast we are interested in putting “meaning to work” – by understanding what it is, how it is created and destroyed, and the effect it has when used successfully.  We are particularly interested in:

  • What meaning is, from both a subjective and a scientific point of view
  • How we can use it to represent concepts in a way people understand and engage with
  • How we can create shared meaning across people with very different experiences and models of the world

This site contributes to the broader vision of Visual Meaning to create more shared meaning in the world.


There are many disciplines that touch on the subject of meaning – semiotics, semantics, philosophy, cognitive science, communication and design theory to name a few – and we draw on all of these fields in our work.  One of the objectives of this site is to take theoretical insights and make them useful, so we try to avoid a multiplicity of technical models and jargon.  Our interest is not so much in academic debate as in what works, based on our experiences of representing complex systemic content in ways that people can understand.

In some ways this site is a bit of a scrapbook – snapshots of an ongoing exploration into how meaning works and how it can be put to work.  Our core model of meaning in its current form is actually most closely aligned to cybernetics, a field of study no longer in vogue, but which we think gives a much more down-to-earth view of why people make sense of things the way they do than traditional academic studies of meaning like semiotics and philosophy of language.

Who are we?

The core model and most of the content here is written by Steve Whitla, with support from the team at Visual Meaning.  Although some of the ideas can be quite theoretical, we want the site to be an example of what it is aiming to achieve, so if you find anything is either meaningless or not useful then please do give us feedback, by commenting directly, dropping us a line or getting in touch on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Positive feedback also obviously very welcome ?.

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