Lorem Ipsum on a Historical Plaque

A historical plaque displaying the infamous dummy text “Lorem Ipsum” on a wall at the Castle of Salgar in Puerto Colombia, near Barranquilla, was removed last January, after a tourist that visited the site shared an image on Twitter/X with the ironic comment: “Excellent and inspiring text.”

The photograph circulated widely across social media platforms capturing the attention of many users and the local and national media. While social media users created memes, shared jokes, and mocked the institutions in charge of the Castle, Colombian news media outlets tried to explain the existence of the plaque and the origins of the Latin text. Several news stories explained that the historical plaque had been on display since 1988, when the minister of culture declared the Castle “cultural object and national patrimony.”

Authorities needed 36 years and a social media massive discussion to notice that the text on the historical plaque did not correspond to the real history of the Castle. Built on 1849 during Spaniard colonial times near the Caribbean ocean, the property served as a fort, a presidium, a customs building, a school, and a university premises.

The dummy text in Latin, which has been a standard for the printing and typesetting industry since 1500, reminded unnoticed for several years. Although the design error is not uncommon, what is weird is that nobody noticed nor changed it for such a long period of time.

One possible explanation to this sort of public lack of attention is that due to the antiquity of the Latin language, and the little knowledge of it among people nowadays, local and foreign visitors could have imagined that the text was in fact explaining the history of the Castle. However, it is a little bit absurd to think that tourist authorities and the local government did not notice the error during more than three decades. In a way, it reveals the low levels of reading skills among the population and the negligence of authorities in charge of public infrastructure. It shows the lack of care and lack of attention that Colombian authorities and citizens give to the details of public infrastructure.

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