Vanity Plates

I did a lot of driving today. 2.25 hours to Philadelphia and then 2.75 hours back, much thanks to a seemingly tiny accident on the Staten Island Expressway Parking Lot. In any case, I think I realized today that vanity license plates are the true predecessors of the Internet’s domain names.
Both are registered through demi-oligarchic means (the State and the state); both involve using specified letters, numbers and dashes (but no semicolons, colons, or asterisks) to lay claim to a piece of common cultural infrastructure; both are necessarily publicly displayed; both are treasured, admired, and critiqued for their logic, humor, and simplicity; and finally, both belong to a visual history of insignias, coats of arms, and other personalized or customized means of signifying one’s presence in the world.

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