Elian SKU Alphabet in Barcode


A simple SKU system whose numerals identify an item by its word
Developed by
C. C. Elian

The Elian SKU Alphabet System - in Brief
(Expanded version in The Elian SKU Alphabet . PDF)
The basis of this SKU system is a 9-square grid with the Latin alphabet placed in order, as indicated below. The alphabet goes through 3 cycles.
Numbers associated with each box
Every letter has a two-digit number assigned to it. The first numeral is that of the box number (1-9), and the second that of the alphabetical cycle in order (1-3).
numerical correspondence to letters

The Elian SKU Alphabet

What it is:
A method of writing SKU numbers such that the numerals correspond to letters of the alphabet. The barcode aspect is an adjunct that allows the numbers to be scanned. A UPC (Universal Product Code, or UCC-12) is a kind of SKU, but with specific formal rules. (http://www.techterms.com/definition/sku)
Why it is:
The Elian SKU alphabet (ESKUA) accommodates the fact that people are composed of various impressionable systems, abstract and concrete, including when they work with numbers. Therefore, care must be taken to design as many of these number-person interactions such that numbers foster psychological and sensory flow by relating closely to the sensory experience of the item in question. Numbers are entities of profound beauty; they do not deserve to be scapegoated for their impersonal and unfeeling nature. Rather, we can design bridges between those who input numerical data and the numbers themselves, e.g. the numerical systems being used. ESKUA makes it possible for databases to be one degree of separation from common words and names.
How it works:
As the following material illustrates, the system is based solely on the placement of the Latin alphabet within a 9-square grid. Each letter is then identified by two numerals, the first is the number of the box (1-9,) the second that of a particular letter’s cycle (1, 2, or 3.)
Where it is used:
SKU numbers are used to track inventory of a given item, as well as designating it. A barcode allows the number to be scanned into a database. ESKUA is particularly useful with files based upon the name of a person, or generic grocery produce items.  This SKU system is a step along the way towards humanizing technology.
Who developed it:
C. C. Elian, artist, developed this system. Many of my artistic efforts are in great part designed to incorporate art elements into social applications.

The Elian SKU Alphabet - Background
“SKU” is the acronym for “Stock Keeping Unit.” A barcode is usually added to a SKU number for the sake of scanning it into a database. In theory a SKU doesn’t need a barcode to be useful. The reality, nonetheless, is that most inventories and product/services databases are handled via computers and a barcode is the fastest way to enter a SKU. The barcode itself is created by readily accessible software designed to translate a string of numerals into a corresponding barcode.
With the Elian SKU alphabet (ESKUA ) each numerical couplet of the SKU’s numbers represents a specific letter of the Latin alphabet. The full string of numerals then spells out the actual word used to describe an item: i.e., the SKU for “pencil” in ESKUA would spell “pencil,” (illustration 1.)  This method of assigning a SKU number means that the cashier/data processor simply has to type in the conventional name of the item via the direct correlation between a two-numeral number and a letter of the alphabet, rather than having to memorize an arbitrary number that has no translation into a specific word.
Illustration 1
It is much easier and more intuitive with ESKUA to input an item into a database since the mind naturally wants to keep referring to an item by its common name, rather than having to memorize a numerical code. By its nature, a numerical referent is an intellectual abstraction and disconnects the interpreter from having a concrete experience of the item referenced. The further the form of the number from a sensory description of the item that it represents, the more biologically abstract is the action of data processing. This is true in both directions of interaction, be it inputting into a database or reading from it.
Has it ever happened to you at the checkout of a grocery store that the cashier doesn’t know how to enter the item that you just handed them? If it is a lettuce, you say “It’s Romaine...” and the cashier has both a micro and macro expression, the former says that you are correctly identifying the item -- because they too know that it is “Romaine”-- and the latter says that finding the price of an item by entering its descriptive name isn’t the way “it” works.

A SKU is needed instead, and it’s an arbitrary number that, tradtionally, varies from business to business.  We all know the cashier’s next actions: to go through a printed list of words for store items, organized by category, and in this way find the corresponding SKU number for a head of Romaine lettuce.
The Elian SKU Alphabet is intended to remedy this schism between how a thing is named and how it is entered into, and read out of, a database.


ESKUA for Romaine


92 - R, 62- O, 42 - M, 11 - A, 91 - I, 52 - N, 51 - E, 0 - End of word marker


Illustration 2
The basis for the numbers in ESKUA is a 9-square grid with the Latin alphabet placed in its order, as indicated in Illustrations 3 and 4 - e.g.: the alphabet goes through three cycles, and each cycle starts bottom left and moves to the top, back to the bottom middle, then to the top middle, back to the bottom right, then finally to the top right. 
Each quadrant therefore contains three cycles, one for each of the possible letters, and each SKU number always consists of two numerals. The first numeral indicates the quadrant in which a letter is located (1-9). The second numeral represents one of the three possible cycles in which a letter can occur in that quadrant (1-3). The rationale for this order is: knowing first which quadrant is being referenced is intellectually efficient because it immediately reduces the pool of possible letters from 26 to 3.
For example, the numbers 11, 12, 13, represent all three letters in quadrant, “1”, containing “A,” “J,” and “S.;” 61, 62, and 63 represent quadrant “6” containing the letters “F,” “O,” and “X. ”The numeric correspondences are very easy to learn because while the first numeral of a couplet is 1 through 9, the second numeral will always be only 1 through 3.  All of the necessary elements for learning the system is contained in Illustration 4.
Illustration 3

Illustration 4

©opyright C.C. Elian . 2008
This material and the system may be freely used and disseminated—with proper accreditation to C.C. Elian when applicable.
Thank you for your interest in my work.
Contact: eskua @ ccelian.com