August 25, 2012

"I was mostly looking for a symbol that wasn’t used much."

"And there weren’t a lot of options — an exclamation point or a comma. I could have used an equal sign, but that wouldn’t have made much sense."

The story of @.


wyo sis said...

Serendipity. The @ is attractive and useful.
How often does that happen?

pm317 said...

Surprising that it was an accident because @ fits so perfectly.

Bender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bender said...

The @ is attractive . . .

. . . except when it is used in that nonsensical and trendy way of responding to someone. For example, writing "@wyo sis" ("at wyo sis") to respond in dialogue, rather than simply "wyo sis."

wyo sis said...

I use it because it says I'm replying to you. Doesn't seem trendy, but I'll cut it out if it offends.

kimsch said...

Before aol, compuserve, et al, I used to use @ to mean each. The article mentions a similar use, 12 apples @ $1.

edutcher said...

Well, he couldn't have use an exclamation point. That's already a symbol of not.

Dante said...

From Wit;

E.M. Ashford: Do you think that the punctuation of the last line of this sonnet is merely an insignificant detail? The sonnet begins with a valiant struggle with Death calling on all the forces of intellect and drama to vanquish the enemy. But it is ultimately about overcoming the seemingly insuperable barriers separating life death and eternal life. In the edition you choose, this profoundly simple meaning is sacrificed to hysterical punctuation.
E.M. Ashford: And Death, Capital D, shall be no more, semi-colon. Death, Capital D comma, thou shalt die, exclamation mark!
E.M. Ashford: If you go in for this sort of thing I suggest you take up Shakespeare.
E.M. Ashford: Gardner's edition of the Holy Sonnets returns to the Westmoreland manuscript of 1610, not for sentimental reasons I assure you, but because Helen Gardner is a scholar.
E.M. Ashford: It reads, "And death shall be no more" comma "death, thou shalt die." Nothing but a breath, a comma separates life from life everlasting.
E.M. Ashford: Very simple, really. With the original punctuation restored Death is no longer something to act out on a stage with exclamation marks. It is a comma. A pause.
E.M. Ashford: In this way, the uncompromising way one learns something from the poem, wouldn't you say? Life, death, soul, God, past present. Not insuperable barriers. Not semi-colons. Just a comma.

The John Donne Poem:

eath, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

CWJ said...

I never gave it a second thought because the symbol seemed so natural for an address. Somebody "at" name of server.

Bender lighten up. In a forest of names and "somebody saids" in a comment string, I find the @ symbol welcome clarity as to whom is being addressed by the commenter.

edutcher said...

kimsch said...

Before aol, compuserve, et al, I used to use @ to mean each. The article mentions a similar use, 12 apples @ $1.

That was the classic usage, seen in stores across the country.

Dante said...

Incidentally, I don't care much for E.M Ashford's interpretation in Wit;.

I suspect John Donne had significant doubts about the bible, for instance, in one poem he discusses the apocalypse, and stated something to the effect "And when the four horsemen come from the corners of this round world."

The point of putting the above post is multiple. First, to acknowledge the importance of punctuation. Second, someone brought up John Donne recently. And third, because Wit; is an incredibly moving play (actually, I read the book a few times, saw the movie, and wish I had seen the play in San Francisco).

jimbino said...

Lots of keyboard symbols would have worked, including ', %, ^, and ~.

Gideon7 said...

Back in the old days we also used paths to send e-mail. For example to send a message from UC Berkeley to Bob Smith at MIT the path might be something like ucbvax!mits!i4nhp!mitvax!bobsmith.

The exclamation mark was pronounced "bang".

george said...

Now that it's mentioned, lets bring back the "cents" symbol.

Bender said...

Bender lighten up. In a forest of names and "somebody saids" in a comment string, I find the @ symbol welcome clarity as to whom is being addressed by the commenter

CWJ -- who am I responding to?

Can you figure it out without the @ being used?

People got along quite fine before Twitter, etc. NOT using @Name to identify who was being responded to, but then one day, all of a sudden, like a bunch of trendy lemmings, people are using the at-best pointless and superfluous @, and at-worst nonsensical at-Name, all over the place.

And no, I won't lighten up. the name is Bender, not Francis (and not at-Bender or @Bender).

kentuckyliz said...

@ is customary when you are tweeting at someone who is not your follower (so you can't direct message DM them privately). I find it helpful.

# used to mean pounds in merchandising lingo.

Printers call the ! bang.

I like the interrobang. My brother had a 70s era typewriter with an interrobang on it.

Some of the font samples of interrobang look like a Pinterest P.

Its use as a library logo is brill.

Would be good for a private detective agency too. LOL

I say, let's bring the interrobang back!

kentuckyliz said...

Lest you think I misspelled interrobang due to the link I posted:

I did, when I searched wikipedia for interrabang. It's a redirect page.

kentuckyliz said...

South Park boy band:


kentuckyliz said...

I've noticed that in dialing into audioconferences, the automated response says "followed by the pound or hashtag sign"

I guess the young twits don't know # means pound.

Sam L. said...

George, good thought, that. Which makes me wonder, when did the cents symbol get left off the keyboards. I recall it was on my manual typewriter.

kimsch said...

You can make a cent symbol by using an ampersand, cent and semi-colon. ¢ ¢ I will use that sometimes and I use ° for degrees. It's currently 74°F here just below the cheese curtain.

Fr Martin Fox said...

All during high school and college (I was graduated from college in 1984), I typed out my papers on an antique Royal typewriter. I used carbon paper and those slips of correction paper that preceded White Out (does that exist anymore?). I became extremely familiar--and fascinated with--every odd symbol on the keys at my fingertips. It had a cents key!

That's when I learned the proper use of the @ key. Mossback that I am, I bristled @ the new usage; but eventually I gave in. ;-)