Re: A .notdef glyph

From: William Overington (
Date: Thu Nov 07 2002 - 04:31:47 EST

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    Michael Everson wrote as follows.

    >At 18:29 +0000 2002-11-06, William Overington wrote:
    >>Thank you for the design brief.
    >Oh, my stars.

    If anyone wants to make a graphic involving stars using Microsoft paint, he
    or she might like to have a look at the following.

    These graphics were produced using 1456 object code programs.

    >>Here is my design.
    >Better hurry and copyright it.

    Actually, since you mention copyright, my understanding is that, under
    United Kingdom law, that copyright existed in the design from the moment
    that I put it into permanent form. As there are various international
    treaties and conventions about copyright, then I think that there is
    copyright in my design through most of the world. Copyright is a very
    interesting aspect of the law. Copyright does not depend upon any
    assessment of artistic or literary merit at all. Copyright is a very
    important and valuable intellectual property right and my understanding is
    that copyright licensing earns the United Kingdom economy a great amount of
    money every year.

    Providing evidence to support a claim of copyright is another matter.
    However, I think that the fact that my design is archived in the mailing
    list archive of the Unicode Corporation is high quality evidence in relation
    to copyright.

    >>The design consists of a single contour in as large a square box as is
    >>possible for the particular font.
    >>In my prototype I used a box 2048 font units by 2048 font units. In this
    >>case, the value of n is 1024.
    >>The contour has seven points, the first point and the last point being at
    >>the same place.
    >>Point 1 is at (0,0) and is on the curve.
    >>Point 2 is at (0,2n) and is off the curve.
    >>Point 3 is at (2n,2n) and is on the curve.
    >>Point 4 is at (2n,n) and is on the curve.
    >>Point 5 is at (n,n) and is on the curve.
    >>Point 6 is at (n,0) and is on the curve.
    >>Point 7 is at (0,0) and is on the curve.
    >What curve? Your specification here produces a rectangular figure.

    Thank you for trying it out.

    The shape is a one piece solid within the area of a square, though the
    square is not drawn. The design idea came from wanting to have an arc which
    goes against the normal arc of design of a graphical user interface of the
    input screen of a computer program. I started with a two arc design, from
    point 1 to point 3 as at present, with another arc going back from point 3
    to point 1 influenced by an off curve point in the bottom right corner of
    the square. This was rather like the hysteresis curve of a magnet. Yet it
    was too symmetrical. The third example was what is the present design. The
    second example had a curve from the present point 4 to the present point 6
    influenced by an off curve point at the present point 5. Yet it looked too
    symmetrical. I wanted a design which would be awkward-looking in the
    display, so as to draw the eye to it.

    I used the Softy shareware program. There is one curve and four straight
    lines in the contour. The curve is a quadratic Bézier curve from point 1 to
    point 3, note please how point 2 is off the curve. That is, point 2
    influences the direction of the curve from point 1 to point 3. The curve
    starts off from point 1 instantaneously heading for point 2, but quickly
    turns away from that direction so that it can make the smooth transition in
    direction which is necessary so that the curve appears to arrive at point 3
    instantaneously as if it had come from the direction of point 2.

    >>I hope that you like the design.
    >But it fails to express ".notdef" in any meaningful way.

    I think I understand what you mean. Yet the meaning of symbols is often
    part of the culture in which they exist. So, as time goes by, perhaps this
    symbol will become to have the meaning of being a .notdef symbol (in the
    sense of one of the various possible .notdef symbols in widespread use)
    perhaps being known as the .notdef symbol which features in that famous
    thread in the archives of the Unicode Consortium's mailing list.

    Perhaps a whole thread on symbols and their meaning is on the point of
    starting in this mailing list. For example, U+2603 has two meanings, one
    the picture meaning, one the other meaning stated in the text of the
    U2600.pdf document. Do U+2622 and U+2623 convey their now well-known
    meanings in any different manner to the way in which my design conveys the
    .notdef concept?

    How does U+2658 express the meaning of which directions are permissible to

    How is it that U+2678 brings thoughts of models of locomotives and U+2677
    does not?

    So, maybe it is not a matter of my design failing to express ".notdef" in
    any meaningful way, perhaps it is a matter that my design, an abstract
    shape, does express ".notdef" in a meaningful way because now lots of people
    know that that is the intended meaning.

    Expressing meaning is a very interesting matter. Some readers might perhaps
    be interested in the following. The first file is, in fact, not a song but
    a text file supporting the song and introducing the encoding system.

    William Overington

    7 November 2002

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