Monday, October 06, 2003

I have not yet found an instance of anyone using Þ in a 1337-ish manner as a fake a P. This may be because people out there know that Þ really is a basic letter of that Latin alphabet, and 1337 properly consists of using non-letters that look like letters.

I remember back in the BBS days, there was a hacker/cracker practice for randomly sprinkling English text with international characters, box-drawing elements and other non-ASCII symbols that happened to look like the letters that one was representing. You'd see things like © for "c" and ┌ for "r". The entire DOS character set was fair game, with no respect to what the letters might actually mean. Σ meant "E", not "S", because it looked like "E". For various reasons, this art form (which as far as I know never had a name) does not seem to have survived the transitition of PC geekdom from DOS to Windows or Linux.

An actual example from my BBS archives... check out the signature of this posting. The author signs his name as ╤hε ƒΘuσ╫h Æm¡gΘ. Note the use of &Theta (GREEK CAPITAL LETTER THETA) for "O", and even σ (GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA) for "r", and σ doesn't even look that much like "r"!

Note that you won't see our favorite letter Þ used in this way, though, because CP437 had no Þ in it!

The more I think about it, the more I think that this might have been more of a mutant relative of the ANSI art scene than anything else.