Thus somebody – and nobody quite seems to know whom – said of Johannes Gutenberg. But even with the belated arrival of the “w” to make up the Latin alphabet to 26, this once mighty army now seems barely enough to log into Bebo.

Cyrillic? on FLickr, by fil himself

There are forces at work.

  1. Web-based services demand that users have globally unique ids. You know the score – you enter your favoured username on the Web Too Point Oh site du jour only to find that some random namesake got there first.
  2. … but people’s names are not globally unique. I guess I could change my name by deed poll to mattedgar63 but society seems unsympathetic to such innovation.
  3. Fortunately many of the new breed of global web services support Unicode as standard. To force the majority of the World’s population to use only Latin characters would be bad for business, as well as deeply un-PC.
  4. Kids like codes. No sooner could my son write than he was finding ways to write messages in secret. Language can be used as a tool to obfuscate as well as communicate.
  5. Kids (in UK at least) are increasingly exposed to cultures with non-Latin character sets. The Iron Curtain has gone and with it the cosy certainty of Gutenberg’s lead soldiers…

Flickr - Cyrillic in the heart of London - by Happy Dave

And before you know it, it’s come to this. And this. And this…

Bebo Sayings

25 soldiers? Make that 95,221.

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