Re: Suggestion for new dingbats/symbols

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Tue, 28 May 2013 13:25:18 -0700

On 5/26/2013 3:15 PM, David Starner wrote:
> On Sun, May 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM, Andreas Stötzner <> wrote:
>> One of the bodies in the world still ignorant of this fact to the very day
>> is Unicode. Which I feel is a mess.
> Problems from Unicode generally come from of two places; compatibility
> with non-Unicode data sets, and people with different goals working on
> it.

Excellent insight.

However, both come with the territory of designing a "universal"
character encoding.

With a mandate like that, it's difficult to leave any significant user
population behind, which forces you to include both the superset of went
before and to encompass people with overlapping, but partially divergent

Unicode has some characteristics that emerged and took on added
importance over time. These include a desire for longevity and
stability, which, among other things require that characters, once
admitted, must be carried along forever - and that implies that one must
be leery of anything that hasn't "stood the test of time".

Characters fall out of use in the real world all the time, but the ideal
for Unicode is to include primarily those that have an ongoing use in
archiving and historical study, which in the digital universe might
include anything used on a wide enough scale.

I sympathize with Andreas' take that the nature and development of
modern pictographic writing are rather less well understood than they
deserve, and that decisions about encoding are therefore done in partial
ignorance of all the facts.

Solid scholarly study of the use of signs, symbols and pictographs might
help - except that there seem to be no scholars that tackle these from
an angle that would ultimately be useful for encoding. I don't believe
that is merely a funding problem, but something more fundamental.


PS: German uses the same term "wissenschaftlich" for both scientific and
scholarly approaches to knowledge. There are prefixes you can use to
narrow things down, but in context, they are often dropped. This, in
turn, can lead to confusion because the wrong choice can be made in
translation. I don't think there's a natural science of character
encoding, and I don't believe that Andreas was really claiming that.
Still, there are ways of rigorously studying the phenomenon, an activity
that would be considered scholarship.
Received on Tue May 28 2013 - 15:30:54 CDT

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