Wednesday, March 8, 2023

SearchResearch Challenge (3/8/23): What do these everyday symbols mean?

 We think of ourselves as literate... 

P/C Dan.

... and as we've discussed before, "literacy" means many things to different people. 

But a common aspect of literacy is understanding the meaning of the different signs that we see in our everyday life.  A big part of this is just seeing the symbols that proliferate in our visual world. 

For instance, you've seen the symbols for PLAY and PAUSE on countless music and video applications (or maybe even on CD players and tape recorders, but not on record players).  Those symbols are just: 

▶️     ⏸️

Sometimes those symbols get combined into a single symbol that merges the two functions together: 


You "read" symbols in the obvious way--seeing Play and Pause together gives you a good idea about what that button will do when you press it.  

Our world is full of symbols that we see, yet might not really understand.  Here are a few such symbols... what are they?  What do they mean?  (And most importantly, HOW DID YOU LEARN what they are?)  

1.  What's this symbol? What does it mean? Where might you see this?


2.  What's this symbol? What does it mean? Where might you see this?  

3.  What are these symbols? What do they mean? Where might you see these?  What's the difference between the two symbols?  

4.  What's this symbol? What does it mean? Where might you see this?


5.  What's this symbol? What does it mean? Where might you see this?

Naturally, I'd mostly like to know HOW you found out what these symbols mean!  Let us know how you did the search.  

Symbols are everywhere--we often don't even realize that they're part of the visually literate world that we inhabit.  We see, but do not observe.  

For example, did you notice the odd, cone-shaped things on the heads of the Egyptians in the opening image?  Are they symbols, or are they depicting cones that people actually wore??  

Notice also that the hieroglyphs in that image are fairly cursive in style--they're handwritten hieroglyphs, and very different than the more formal glyphs you'd find on tombs and obelisks.  

Keep searching! 


  1. started with Egypt… (we see with our noses?)
    head cone:
    there is an app
    falcons along the Nile
    some symbol/logos -
    most of the symbols can be image searched; e.g.:
    🍎~ 🥑


  3. modern symbol?~ to the Amarna tombs cones…?
    can be had by the common masses

  4. in the popular press, 2019 -

  5. Nicely done! You're right, tilde used to mean "expand synonyms" for search terms, but it was deprecated a few years ago.

  6. In Spanish, Tilde is more known as the (´) like in canción than the part of the ñ (~)

    That part is known as virgulilla:

    Also many say apóstrofe instead of saying apóstrofo. They are not the same.

  7. did the carvers/painters have spellcheck?
    no chance for misunderstanding this avocado 😱

  8. For Q2

    Searched by image: Youradchoices

    The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA)

    [Adchoices Wikipedia]

    "...The AdChoices icon is shown automatically by companies part of the self-regulatory program..."

    Reception part is interesting. I have to say that today was the first time I noticed it and if I saw it before never was something that catch my eyes. Therefore, I didn't know what it is about before the Challenge.

    1. That's very, very true. NOBODY notices the icon... which, I think, was part of the design goal.

  9. from previous sRs - the changing language - Emoji Dick
    how was this missed?


  11. fwiw: the accidental search…
    👆 (& cursor pointers @ 4 min. in - AE video)
    how  Semla! Swedish Fat Tuesday Buns led to a short Swedish piece on AI…with German animations. All about the Chef John rhyme — Andreas Ekström

    1. WRT your last comment I have one word for you: manicule. Enjoy.

    2. thanks Dan - I didn't run across a specific name when used as a computer cursor? (see Xerox Star?)
      bishop's fist – alas, the pointing finger has many connotations - or
      Michelangelo Buonarroti /Sistine Chapel point…
      $13… things can get ambiguous with the digits pointing - even printed -
      not a pilcrow properly referring to the paragraph mark, ¶
      can a pointed tongue be a manicule in voice UI?

    3. "nosepickers" letterpress - but where do you plug them in?

    4. Love this search:

      (In retrospect, I really should have included a manicule in the list of symbols to search for!)

    5. I didn't know manicure. In Spanish:

      USA postal service uses red manicure to sign that the letter will be returned to sender . Alan Kay added to smalltalk.

      It's not an emoji (in Spanish)


      Also interesting alligator pear aka Avocado


    6. Ramon - nice sign from the Spanish wiki…
      neon - in SF - maybe Dan has seen/eaten?

  12. the origin of the pointer?… A & J, circa ~ 3400 B.C. 𒀝𒅗𒁺𒌑

  13. is manicule sexist?
    or is it just a "pointy thing" that's pointless
    these days? where is the red pencil?
    "The red end is usually used for corrections in written copy, and does not show up in xerography, while the blue pigment is used by editors to give instructions to the printer and does not show on photography or lithography - hence the name 'non-photo blue'."

  14. some finer "points":

    Hedera/fleuron, Fist (Manicule):

  15. 5:

    Hot surfaace icon from rt click on google. On anything that generates heat that one might not expect.

    Wikipedia › wiki › Tilde

    In informal writing, a tilde (or multiple tildes) may be used at the end of a sentence to indicate a speaker is intending to be playful or flirty. You are most likely to encounter this usage on social media or in fanfiction writing.

    That little squiggle above the n in Spanish words such as España, niño and otoño is called a tilde (although confusingly, in Spanish it's called la virgulilla or la tilde de la eñe).

    I see it over n in California as in Cañada

  16. may be of interest - not on topic,
    certainly not everyone's cup o' tea
    hints at the coming pervasiveness… we are terminally screwed - there is much new pain to be had & explored.
    Farrell ~ 24 min. in

    ~40:50min in… 🍆 (my answer, Aubergine)
    what Alda used to convert text to speech from ChatGTP
    another beta site he used:

    question 7 -


  17. brinjal - new word for me - (it's a circuitous route… symbolically speaking)

  18. disappearing comments?? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Yeah... what's up with that? Is anyone (looks at remmij) deleting comments? I'm as puzzled as you...

    2. a minor cosmic mystery…
      there's a note if a commenter deletes - and they can only delete their own comments… multiple people were erased…
      the only time I've seen full vanish is when the blog author removes… saw it drop from ~ 22 to 17 to 12… wondered why? perhaps
      the Egyptian manicule deities were displeased — curious… editorial AI? there is a bug/gremlin/ghost in the machine?

    3. leprechaun… or better not to ask?
      a goo-litch?

  19. ¬ & ∅
    "The arithmetic subtraction symbol (−) and tilde (~) are also used to indicate logical negation."

  20. Hey there! I stumbled upon this blog post while exploring interesting topics, and it got me thinking about the power of effective search strategies.
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