Bruno Latour is Professor and Vice President for Research at Sciences Po in Paris. His lecture "How Better to Register the Agency of Things: Semiotics" was given on March 26, 2014 as part of The Tanner Lectures on Human Values at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale. This first lecture of two takes up the semiotics of how we describe things in the world. In this talk Latour describes his focus as the "trajectories of meanings." In the course of an argument about the commonalities between humanistic and scientific methods, he calls for a new commitment to defending the sciences and the humanities against their common enemy: those who would apply suspect standards of economic efficiency to academic institutions. Calling on both scientists and humanists to be "friends of the interpretable object," he implores them to embrace the act of "hairsplitting."