<|> & >|< vs. OPEN & CLOSE

<|> and >|< are two universally recognized symbols except for those who have never set foot in an elevator. They are brilliant and simple symbols used instead of the words "Open" and "Close". Elevators manufacturers cut down on translation costs and the world gets a simple universal symbols. That may be true but I noticed that I could never get them in a blink. I am probably wired in such as a way that if this is flashed in front of me:
<|>
its takes my brain at least 2 seconds to process the image and then understand that it means open. However if I see this:

OPEN

I get it immediately. I don’t have to think.

Why? BTW I consider myself as a visual person. So, where is the irony?

The answer, I realized is that my mind doesn’t read “OPEN” as O P E N. The word itself has become a symbol (with repeated exposure over a period of time). I get it in an instant. So, why is <|> not a familiar symbol to my mind?. I think it is because in this case the symbols are too close to each other. Consider this

The following two symbols are visually far apart from each other

OPEN CLOSE

Whereas the following are too close

<|> >|<
Just the directional play of “>” and “<" confuses my mind and hence the need to spend some thinking time if the door is moving out or coming in. PS: This was puzzling me ever since I found myself in a dumb situation where I was inside the elevator and my 4 yr old son outside and the door was closing in. I looked at the buttons and froze. I ended up pressing both because in that instant I couldn’t figure out which does what. As luck would have it I pressed “>|<” first !!



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  1. MOTHER OF MANY says:

    I do exactly the same when faced with the same situation, I start flapping and do not know which button to push. In the end I usually end up putting my foot out to stop the doors closing!