Via the Brisbane Times, an article from the Washington Post about Tomlinson, the guy who ‘invented’ the use of ‘@’ in emails in 1972, confuses the Web and Email technology which preceded it by several decades. Even after the ‘@’ symbol, you still sometimes had to use the ‘bang’, i.e. ‘!’ to route emails explicitly. You put the machines you wanted to route it though in the ‘bang path’: ‘amachinename!anothermachine!yourmachine!youraccount’. When I started using FidoNet in the 80s and through to the early 90s when I had a ‘UUCP’ account through APANA, sometimes that old form persisted. Anyway, whatever WashPo thinks all that’s got to do with the web, I’m not sure.
The symbol suggests that we think of the web as a geographic location, rather than a state of mind. It is something to be surfed, cruised, crawled through.