Shady characters seem to be popping up in the mainstream media more and more regularly these days. Having discussed its signature use of the diaeresis only a few weeks ago, this month the New Yorker turns its attention to the ‘þ’, or ‘thorn’, a medieval consonant used to represent a ‘th’ sound. In a post on the magazine’s book blog, Mary Norris explains how she shepherded a stray thorn through the composition and proofreading processes — and apparently met with very little resistance in doing so. This heartens me as to the prospects for the Shady Characters book; the ‘þ’ is positively prosaic compared to some of the Unicode mining I’ve been engaged in of late.
Ray Tomlinson, the software engineer who propelled the the @-symbol from obscurity to ubiquity when he chose it for use in email addresses, has been named as one of the inaugural inductees of the Internet Hall of Fame. Mr Tomlinson is in good company: ex-Vice President Al Gore, honoured for his work in promoting Internet access, is among the first round of inductees, as is Vint Cerf, the co-creator of TCP/IP and, by extension, the modern Internet itself. It’s been a long time since Mr Tomlinson first sent an email to himself @ another computer, but I’m sure it’s been worth the wait.