Angle brackets are a fundamental part of every web page that you visit: everything from <em>emphasized text</em> to <a href=”http://time.com”>hyperlinks</a> are constructed from “tags” demarcated by pairs of such characters. (The adventurous reader may wish to right-click on this page and select “View page source” to see angle brackets at work.) The right-pointing angle bracket may also be familiar to early internet users as a way of identifying replies in email threads:
>> Hello, how are you? > I'm fine. How are you? I'm also fine.
Though this harks back to the early days of the internet, it also recalls a very much older practice. The ancient Greeks sometimes placed a similar right-pointing mark, called the diple, in the margins of texts to draw attention to something of interest on the associated line. By the fifth century, the diple had come to be used chiefly to indicate quotations from other works, and at least one writer doubled up diples to distinguish his own words (>) from those of his opponent (>>). Punctuation has a long memory.
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