Re: io9 describes Unicode as one of the 10 most unlikely things influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien

From: Michael Everson <>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 00:56:32 +0000

On 9 Dec 2012, at 00:17, Mark Davis ☕ <> wrote:

>> > Their inference, it appears, is that had I not read Tolkien when I was 13 I would not be who I am today and the content of the Universal Character Set might be a lot different than it is.
> I doubt it.

Really? Well, perhaps someone else would have looked after some of that content.

> Many people are far more responsible for the structure, model, properties, and characters of Unicode, including not only those who belong to the Unicode consortium, but also those in the IRG, those in ISO, and those who originally developed the international, national, and vendor encoding standards that Unicode built upon.

For my part I am certainly not denying any of that, Mark. But then, I didn't write the io9 article, either. But by "content" I didn't mean so much "structure". I was talking about a percentage of non-CJK encoded characters.

> Unicode characters, measured by frequency of usage on the web, would be essentially the same had Michael not been around. That would not be the case without people like Ken Whistler, Joe Becker, Lee Collins, Lisa Moore, Michel Suignard, or Asmus Freytag: I could go on, but there are far to many to name. Nor would Unicode have been a success without the many people who worked in different companies to build the infrastructure necessary for its use, or the staff behind the scenes working in the Unicode Consortium.

On the other hand, when I wrote "the content of the UCS might be a lot different than it is", I don't think I misspoke. Would there be quite so many minority scripts in that alternate universe where I didn't read Tolkien and didn't get involved with the UCS? Would there be an INVERTED INTERROBANG? Would THORN and YOGH have been disunified? Or Coptic and Greek? Or Cyrillic KU and WE from Q and W? Would all of the many scripts we've encoded to date have been encoded? Ogham? Carian? Elbassan? Old Permic?

> Michael has made many valuable contributions to Unicode, especially for minority and historic scripts. And he can be rightfully proud of the work he has done there. But neither should that work be exaggerated.

I don't exaggerate. And while I'm chuffed by the io9 article I don't take it out of proportion. But by saying "it might be a lot different than it is" I don't think I've misspoken. For that matter, in a parallel universe where you, or Ken, or Joe, or Lee, or Lisa, or Michel, or Asmus not been here, it would also be different. But in a different way.

It can easily be pointed out, for instance, that -- in general -- not one of the seven of you have been as focussed on repertoire additions as on other aspects of the standard.

What I like most about the io9 article is its mention of my Dork Forest interview. I hope that readers of Unicode and Unicore lists who listen to it get the total joy that I, for my part, get out of this work.

Michael Everson *
Received on Sat Dec 08 2012 - 18:59:14 CST

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