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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

L33T GR4F1T1

Cryptic graffiti spray-painted next to a swastika on Juneau's lone synagogue angered and confused many late last month.

Police initially labeled the mark "pp4lyf" as "gang-related graffiti," but to some Internet-savvy youth the tag seems less likely to be a sign of the infiltration of organized hatemongers in Juneau than of the proliferation of an increasingly popular type of computer slang known as "leetspeak."

Leetspeak, or leet, is a computer communication style in which letters are replaced with numbers and symbols to spell or abbreviate phrases and sentences. Although leet is far from new - it is believed to date back to the 1980s when hackers and programmers used it to mask their communication - the lingo has become popular in recent years with the explosion of interactive video games, instant messaging and social networking Web sites.
-- - Cyber wordsmiths transform the 3N9Li$H language

Somehow this seems like some kind of creepy turning point for geek culture.

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