08/27/2012 11:37 am ET

Why The Internet Doesn't Recognize The Accents In A Name

The Internet doesn’t like me — or, at least, it doesn’t care much for my name. My first name consists of two words and I have accent marks in both my first and last names, which seems to complicate my online life considerably. When trying to purchase an airline ticket or sign up for an email newsletter, I’m never completely certain whether it will go through, or how my name will come out of the transaction, but I’m usually pretty sure it won’t be right.

Turns out it’s not me. Rather it’s the archaic remnants of how computers came to be programmed in the U.S. during the mid-twentieth century. When standards for exchanging data between computers such as ASCII were created, the workforce consisted mostly of white males. They created programs still widely used today recognizing certain symbols and names — accent marks are not typically among them.

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