The Respectfully Experiment (derives from Re: (long) Re: Chromatic font research)

From: William Overington (
Date: Fri Jul 05 2002 - 04:04:35 EDT

Kenneth Whistler made the following comment.

>As others have pointed out, "The Respectfully Experiment" did not
>constitute new *evidence* of anything in this regard.

I have been thinking as to what exactly The Respectfully Experiment

As the experiment happened and the result was not in accordance with the
sender's expectation, then clearly it demonstrates something.

Also, when the Unicode Technical Committee revises the text of the section
of the Unicode specification about the Private Use Area, then maybe The
Respectfully Experiment will be mentioned in the discussion and maybe the
wording of the specification will be a little different than it might
otherwise have been.

For, whatever people may say about The Respectfully Experiment in relation
to chances and probabilities and so on, nevertheless what happened is what

Please know that I am not trying to make more of The Respectfully Experiment
than what is there, yet, as a physicist and mathematician and inventor who
also has an interest in the history of science, mathematics and invention, I
am trying to think out, as a history and philosophy of science matter, what
exactly, precisely is the significance of The Respectfully Experiment. It
seems to have some interest in relation to the meanings of encodings and how
encodings are deciphered. It seems to touch on the fact that if someone who
speaks, say, English, goes into a shop while in a part of the country that
he or she has never visited before, he or she can have a conversation in
English with the shop assistant notwithstanding that he or she has never met
the shop assistant before, yet if the shop assistant uses a local word (such
as a 'batch' to mean a 'bread roll' or does it mean 'a filled bread roll',
as in the sign in a shop saying "batches 50p each") then there may be
confusion. It just seems to me that, after all of the fun of The
Respectfully Experiment that there is possibly something rather deeper in
scientific meaning in what happened.

The Respectfully Experiment is fairly well documented in the Unicode archive
and, as time goes by, it may become regarded as an interesting classic
experiment in the use of Unicode in information telecommunication from the
old days.

I sent a small graphic respect1.gif into the archive and I wonder if perhaps
a small graphic respect2.gif showing the ct ligature might be useful in the
archive and also a small graphic respect3.gif showing how the U+E707
character was displayed as a Shavian character on a computer set up for
Shavian from the ConScript registry and respect4.gif showing how the U+E707
character came out on a Mac which reported it as a Private Use Area

The gif file respect1.gif is also available on the web.

William Overington

5 July 2002

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