My first PhD dissertation focused on meaning making in online networks. By the early noughties I found myself confronted with the impossibility of writing about "meaning" or "sense" without first disentangling the concepts behind this dimension of social interaction. Independent and often conflicting notions of meaning resulted from disciplines assigning specific attributions for phrasal and semantic meaning that bore no connection to the concept of sense-making into the social domain.
Back in 2006 there were as many definitions of meaning as there were publications, and I don't think the situation has improved much since. The literature review provided me with an opportunity to explore the multiple dimensions of the concept before I could describe the theoretical anomaly of a digital (i.e. "spectral") meaning. By digital meaning I was referring to variations of cross-talk that produced various forms of misunderstanding, intentional or otherwise. Such forms abounded in the early days of computer-mediated communication.
My objective was to describe how phrasal and social meaning in online communication involuntarily depended on incongruity. Messages were being wrenched out of its original context and sender and receivers were adjusting their pitch as they went along. This work contrasted the concepts of meaning and sense intended as an account of cultural production and digital meaning-making often produced without any reference to phrasal meaning or social contexts. The spectral meaning, thus, referred to the condition of something designed to be copied and replicated without depending on referential or semantic meaning.