on september 24th, 2019, i posted this on tumblr:
⎇ is the unicode symbol for the alt key, and something that i’ve personally been using as a general symbol for alterhumanity. it’s distinct, not really in use otherwise, and i think the symbolism is pretty self evident.
i’ve talked about it in the Alt+H server a couple times, some people have liked it, some people haven’t, so i figured i’d bring the idea to a wider audience and see if it takes.
for a while this page was just a reproduction of that post, but i think it might benefit to give some extra info now.
how it started
did you know? alt+h was originally going to be called 'the alt key'. this post isn't a history of alt+h's name and logo, except it is, because how people have interpreted alt+h's position in the alterhuman community directly influenced my need to propose a useable symbol. so bear with me for a sec, ok?
alt+h was originally going to be called 'the alt key' because we concieved of it as a directory in the vein of the old, old otherkin websites that first brought all the disparate nonhuman communities under its wing by providing links to all of them. some of this intent made it into the final name - alt+h is a keyboard shortcut, after all. a lot of people don't seem to realize this! i guess there aren't many who need to press alt plus another button on their keyboard in their day to day lives. (hell, even classics like ctrl+z are probably going the way of the dodo with the shift to mobile devices.) incidentally, i do use the shortcut alt+h very frequently - in blender, it unhides all hidden objects. that's pretty apt, i think.
anyway, alt+h's first logo was based on the alt key symbol (so is the current one, more obliquely). at the beginning of its life, just about everyone identified alt+h with the whole of the alterhuman community. i suppose that the discord genuinely could have been the sum total of all people using 'alterhuman' to identify themselves way back when the term was barely known. but there was still some weird transference between alt+h, the project group of like two or three people, and the community surrounding the project. this extended to the logo. we saw it popping up everywhere as the term spread. this culminated in a pride flag design surfacing in 2018-ish that not only used the project logo, but also straight up picked the colors from our website.
so that's about the point where i decided that i needed to give the people something else to chew on. i initially tried some other designs derived from the alt key itself, including a trefoil, but ultimately...
Smith [Polyptych] 28/04/2019 23:11
...honestly can i just have an alt key on a pin
what if i just
wrench the alt/option key off my laptop
vagabondsun (蒜) 28/04/2019 23:12
fdgdfg i've thought about doing that too
honestly there's a case to be made for. why complicate things. the alt key symbol is very underused even for its own purpose
⎇ its got a unicode symbol an' a' :v
other participants in the convo were initially concerned about its simplicity and potential conflict with its original tech use, so we continued to debate possible designs for a looooong time. that conversation petered out, but people brought up the alt key every so often for a few months after that whenever someone asked about symbols or flags. eventually, i sensed that it was gaining enough favour that it was time to make a post about it.
how it's going
like many of the alterhuman things i put into the world, i kind of lost track of where the alt key went after i proposed it. the post got 100-ish notes and i didn't really start seeing anyone actively use it. all the major stuff that happened in my line of sight happened in the alt+h discord: i made an emoji set for use there which included it, and then in 2021 ghost designed a pride flag featuring it with input from the community. in 2022, reddit ran its r/place event again, and joey rallied the discord and r/alterhuman, and eventually teamed up with a number of other subreddits to create and defend pixel art of the symbol on the massive canvas. that was pretty special.
did that contribute to wider visibility of the symbol? i did start noticing it around more after that, but i can't really say if there's a causality there. encounters in the wild are still rare, overall. but among people who know about alterhumanity, and associate a symbol with it, this is the symbol it is. i strongly feel it's running uncontested for being The Alterhuman Symbol that everyone knows and uses in the future.