"Niagara made a careful gesture, like a religious benediction: a diagonal slice across his chest and a stab to the heart. 'A slash and a dot,' he said. 'I doubt it means anything to you, but this was once the mark of an alliance of progressive thinkers linked together by one of the very first computer networks. The Federation of Polities can trace its existence right back to that fragile collective, in the early decades of the void century. It's less a stigma than a mark of community.'"
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Alistair Reynolds is one of the big names in science fiction today. He's the author of such books as Revelation Space and Chasm City. He also reads Slashdot, evidently. Link to the author's website here"