Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Two Small Pieces of Business

I’ve been meaning to bring this up for a while, and I just don’t think I can sit on it any longer. Here we are, five years into the new millennium, and we still don’t have a name for our decade. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic. The kids from all the other decades are laughing at us.

So let me humbly propose a name for what has been in many respects a truly miserable semi-decade: The Naughts. It’s short, catchy, and excellent fodder for puns. Our political efforts have largely been for naught. We’ve had some naughty moments (Janet Jackson, Howard Stern). We have a president with naught a clue. And so on.

The other thing we’re desperately missing is a symbol. Something that’s simple and intuitive but still leaves plenty of room for more complicated bumperstickers.

The ‘60s had the peace sign. The ‘70s had the smiley face. The ‘80s had the Anarchist symbol – you know, the A inside the circle? (It didn’t really catch on, Anarchists not generally considered to be masters of marketing, but still.) The ‘90s had…well, I don’t know what the ‘90s had, but they surely had something. A cigar maybe. A blue dress.

Bruce Schneier, a frighteningly lucid and level-headed thinker on all forms of security, has offered up a symbol I think fits the bill perfectly: the individual-i. (Visit to see it in action.)

It stands for information and for individuals, both of which are being heavily suppressed in these dark days. It can stand for inspiration, integrity, intrepidness, or insouciance. It can stand for whatever you want it to stand for. For all we know it could be the Indonesian symbol for toilet. And it’s completely open source, free for the taking, 100% fully customizable. You could print it on T-shirts and sell them for $20 apiece and nobody would sue you.

Best of all, it’s unlikely to be appropriated by The Other Side (though you can be certain if this catches on they will come up with their own symbol, something lethal and fascistic, emblazoned with stars and blood and pointy objects).

I am trying, in my feeble yet endearing way, to start a small movement among blogs to adopt the individual-i and make it universal--unlike, say, health care or respect for civil liberties. If I can ever figure out how to add it to my blog template it will become the permanent symbol-in-residence on The WitList. I urge you to use it, put it on your own blogs, and share it with your friends.

Let 100 million individuals bloom. And then we’ll figure out where to go from there.


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