Re: Encoding of symbols and a "lock"/"unlock" pre-proposal

From: Thomas Chan (
Date: Tue May 21 2002 - 15:28:45 EDT

On Tue, 21 May 2002, William Overington wrote:

> Yes, I feel that it is worth putting forward a proposal for the open and
> closed padlock symbols, yet wonder if I may make mention that maybe the
> words should be "unlocked" and "locked" as adjectives rather than "unlock"
> and "lock" as imperative verbs.
> Surely, a padlock is either unlocked or locked, so that the symbols indicate
> the state in which a system now exists. This then raises the question as to
> whether there should be symbols for "unlock" and "lock" as imperative verbs,
> such that those symbols would indicate where to click so as to change from
> being in an unsecure state to a secure state or from being in a secure state
> to an unsecure state. This then gets into the fact that with a padlock one
> needs a key to unlock it but one does not need a key to lock it, yet using a
> key symbol to mean unlock would seem to go against the way that computer
> systems are organized in that a key might seem more naturally to mean lock,
> notwithstanding that one does not need a key to lock a padlock.

I'm not a big fan of pictographs and prefer to see real writing, but as an
alternative to a locked and unlocked padlock, isn't there also an intact
key and a broken key as allographs? I think Netscape Navigator once used

Thomas Chan

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