Beyond Text Encoding

ASCII art (Wikipedia Contributors 2019)

Even though the idea of text encoding is quite new to me I didn’t quite get the importance of text encoding initiative until I watched to Tim Berners-Lee’s video about the next Web of open, linked data, I realized that Having different types of data formats makes it harder for people to use multiple resources to create something because the resources formats are often incompatible the thing that made me realize the importance of TEI of why is it important to have a standards for data to enable the accessibility of its usage, combining and reformatting. (TEDTalks 2009)

Then I have learnt that xml is one of the most common languages of text encoding however I wasn’t quite sure how to relate it or use it in my research so I started looking in its application in the design field and I have found this video

In which XML acts as a template to InDesign, the thing that made me look for other text encoding applications in graphic design. Later on, I came across character encoding and text art which is quite interesting. I found out about ASCII art, which stands for “American National Standard Code for Information Interchange” and is basically art that is created by 96 characters of the 256 characters in the ASCII standard like letters, digits, and symbols. ASCII initially was The visual language of pre-WWW networks like BBSs and Telnet. (Kelechava 2019)

Western ASCII art. Usenet-style on the left by Joan Stark (1998) and scene-style to the right by Stylez (1995) (hollenbeckj 2020)
 Star Wars ASCII art by Simon Jansen. (hollenbeckj 2020)

And then I came across Shift-JIS Art is the ASCII art in Japan, it allows  for the creation of more complicated art pieces It should be noted that ASCII art is a more popular phenomenon in Japan compared to many other countries. (hollenbeckj 2020)

Japanese ASCII art. Robot by Illiorzilli (2013) on the left, and muscular Pedobear on the right by Runte0531 (2013). (hollenbeckj 2020)

My exposure to that kind art made me wonder about its potentials in creating authentic NFTs and I also would like to know the possibility of adding characters and digits of different languages like Arabic for instance, and I definitely want to learn more encoding, this type of art and the potentials of encoding in graphic design in general about what will the art look like??!! I have found an online ASCII art generator but it doesn’t have the Arabic option.


hollenbeckj. 2020. “Beyond Encoding: A Critical Look at the Terminology of Text Graphics [PDF].” Presentica. May 15, 2020.

Kelechava, Brad. 2019. “ANSI Art and ASCII Art – Origins in Standards.” The ANSI Blog. October 31, 2019.

TEDTalks. 2009. “Tim Berners-Lee: The next Web of Open, Linked Data.” YouTube Video. YouTube.

Wikipedia Contributors. 2019. “ASCII Art.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. August 21, 2019.