Are you the type of person that reads a blog post, reads things on Twitter, goes to forums, and discovers all of this interesting stuff that you can implement at work or new technology you can learn, but think you don’t have the time? This post is for you. In this post, I want to talk about those people who consume a lot of information, gather all of this knowledge about various topics, as well as being aware of the new technologies but don’t take the next step of implementing it. They don’t take any action on it at all; all of us are guilty of this to some degree.
Indoor mapping isn’t necessarily the best solution. Detailed indoor maps easily overwhelm the user with too much detail. We don’t need more map vomit. The trick here is to come up with a simple intuitive UI that quickly shows stacked information then gets out of the way. Unfortunately nobody has come up with an elegant solution yet. It’s a good challenge for any digital map cartography team.
Japan is a country of stacked businesses. It’s common for 9 different businesses to occupy the same geographical footprint – two basements and seven floors. Then there are arcades, train stations, underground tunnels, and other spaces that don’t fit well in a standard 2D map.
If you live in Japan, surely you’ve seen it before. It’s a symbol that looks like the capital letter T but with an additional horizontal line above it: 〒. Known as the postal mark (yubin kigo), it’s a symbol that represents the Japanese postal system. Despite a decline in physical letters sent, the postal system is still very much a part of life in Japan as it also offers banking and other financial services (an odd notion in itself as most Americans would never consider banking with USPS) and the 〒 appears on post boxes, delivery trucks and branch offices.
the 〒 mark on a postal delivery truck
The story of how the 〒 came to be dates back to 1871 when the Japan Post began operating as an organization. From the onset, a logo didn’t exist and, instead, they were simply represented by the characters 郵便 (yubin, or post). But around 1877, a red circle with a bold line though it began being used. It was adopted as the official postal mark in 1884 by administrative order from the Grand Council of state.
the original postal mark (1877 – 1887)
In 1885, the now-defunct Ministry of Communications and Transportation (teishinshou 逓信省) is formed, and they take over all postal matters. It’s first minister was Enomoto Takeaki, a samurai and admiral who had fought against the new Meiji government, lost and imprisoned, but later pardoned.
But just 3 years after the first mark was made official, a new symbol was announced. On February 8, 1887, it was announced that T would be the new logo. Then, days later on February 14th a new announcement was made that 〒 was the official symbol. Several days after that an explanation was given, citing that T was published by mistake and it should have been 〒.
It’s unclear what led to this series of mishaps but to summarize the various theories, the original T was likely taken from the first letter of the ministry’s name: Teishinshou. However, this was problematic for several reasons. It was too simple and, more importantly, the letter T was already a universally accepted postal code for insufficient postage. So the T needed to be changed. One theory that explains how T became 〒 is that the logo for shipping company NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha), founded in 1885, was 2 bold red lines. According to researchers of this Japanese trivia show, the symbol was interpreted as a pun: ni-hon means 2 lines, but can also mean Nihon, as in the country (NYK claims that the lines represent ambitions to traverse the planet, rather than a pun). And so the concept was co-opted by the ministry to create 〒, which stuck and has now been used for over 130 years.