Joe October 20, 2006 1:46 PM

I vote to mandate that the “ubiquitous surveillance” sign be placed in any web page served by an ISP that keeps user logs for “tracking criminal activity”.

DougC October 20, 2006 2:06 PM

I loved this! Someone is not only thinking ahead, but along some pretty interesting lines of thought. Not that it’ll be useful right away…

Alan October 20, 2006 3:12 PM

Reminds me of some of the warning labels from the Happy Mutant handbook.

We need warning labels for “Imaginary Threat”. Maybe a warning system for an “Imaginary Threat Level”.

Today’s threat is: “Lovecraftian”

David Dyer-Bennet October 20, 2006 3:19 PM

These are gorgeous. Look for some of them floating around Convivial this weekend :-). Especially if the consuite webcam idea gets implemented.

-jc October 20, 2006 5:36 PM

In some organisations the ‘lack of internet connectivity’ would be considered ‘reputational damge risk’ right now. Can I start using the symbol at work, or is it copyright???

Reader October 20, 2006 6:51 PM

Great stuff. This is imaginative thinking of a Sci-Fi nature. You may agree or disagree but that is not the point; this is one way to get you thinking about the future and implications of choices we make today. Using Sci-Fi can actually help because it comes (by definition) without much less of the political and socialogical baggage of our day-to-day existence. Forget the RFID stuff. How will we categorise advanced technology hazards in the future? Arguably, these hazards include advanced processing technology as well as traditional chemical/biological hazards.

FormicaArchonis October 20, 2006 7:26 PM

Neat article. A few good signs there, particularly the surveillance one. I also like the antimatter one.

Oh, silly question: While kicking about the Internet on more than one occasion, I’ve seen a symbol that looks like it could be a chemical warning sign. Looks like a top-down view of a model of a methane molecule – three small circles surrounding a larger circle, with a fourth small one inside the larger circle. Anyone know if that’s for real, or even what I’m talking about? Certainly it looks more legit than some others I’ve seen (my favorite – the electrical monster on the bottom of )

Alan> Today’s threat is: “Lovecraftian”

Ummm. Bat-winged squid eating a stick figure?

BLP> On a similar tangent, the process by which Dow came up with the Biohazard symbol:

Oooh! Interesting read. Finally, a focus group comes up with something good! Looking at the rejected ones, the middle one makes me think “Warning: Rabid Zelda fans” and the third looks like set decor from a B-movie called “Attack of the Space Nazis”.

-jc> In some organisations the ‘lack of internet connectivity’ would be considered ‘reputational damge risk’ right now.

Perhaps a “No cell phone signal” sign for rural areas would also be an idea? 🙂 (Actually, now that I say it, it seems like less of a joke….)

-jc> Can I start using the symbol at work, or is it copyright???

An @ sign and two dots? I don’t know if it’s possible to copyright something that looks like someone’s asleep at the typewriter. (Personally, to get the idea across I think the @ sign should be a bit more broken.)

Here in Nova Scotia I’ve seen a white @ on blue on highway exit signs (next to the classic food, gas, lodging signs) to denote a CAP site. (“Community Access Program” – Internet accessible by the public.)

Nils October 20, 2006 9:42 PM

“As our exoselves become more and more dynamic and linked to our biological minds a loss of connectivity could cause breakups of our extended minds.”


Davi Ottenheimer October 21, 2006 11:37 PM

I have to say those aren’t the best icons I’ve ever seen (weak iconicity). They seem to require quite a lot of prior knowledge and reference to understand them, which seems rather self-defeating. In fact, that is surely why each set of icons appears to require an accompanying explanation below…

Don’t get me wrong, I love icons. But the simplicity of stop signs (uniquely octagonal, uniquely red, and the word stop) shouldn’t be underestimated. Although a butterfly might fit someone’s syntax, it does not imply chaos.

@ Reader

You mean like Robert Heinlein and the waterbed? How should we categorize that sci-fi inspired technology hazard?

Clive Robinson October 22, 2006 6:09 AM

Am I the only one to spot the similarity between that of “Ubiquiious Surveillance” and “Autonomous Device”.

Maybe somebody knows more than they should do about the future or they have read 1984;)

TheSinusoid October 22, 2006 8:39 AM

Actually, AFAIK, there still is no official warning symbol for hazards like computer viruses, trojan horses, and such.

I’ve heard of computer security labs dealing with such hazards labeling their infected media with the biohazard symbol, which obviously is not a very good idea.

I produced a proposal for such a symbol a long time ago, see URL

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