Today, the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York announced the addition of the @ symbol to their collection, which they bought for the cheapest price imaginable: absolutely nothing. According to Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator in the museums Department of Architecture and Design, this newest item is the only thing in the museum that is quite literally priceless. And, while there is some doubt circulating the artistic validity of this particular addition, the Moma articulated the reasoning behind this unexpectedly controversial decision:
“The appropriation and reuse of a pre-existing, even ancient symbol–a symbol already available on the keyboard yet vastly underutilized, a ligature meant to resolve a functional issue (excessively long and convoluted programming language) brought on by a revolutionary technological innovation (the Internet)–is by all means an act of design of extraordinary elegance and economy.”
Needless to say, web-based discussion on the subject is rampant, with a majority of individuals focusing mostly on the symbol’s significance in e-mail, and it’s convenient prevalence in social-media style communication (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). As such companies battle to become the public’s primary online identity providers, the @ symbol could be much more than just a work of art, it could be the future seed of a mega-dispute.