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The League of Moveable Type

Posted: July 22nd, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: resources, type | Tags: | Comments Off

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I have nothing against the traditional type foundries (I’ll feature some of them soon so everyone gets equal time) but The League of Moveable Type has jumped on the open source movement in an exciting fashion. They have a nice manifesto worth taking a moment to read. Unquestioningly good type can be quite expensive and questionable type can often be had for free so it is exciting to see someone fill a niche in the middle. It’s a smart move because most design project budgets live in that same middle niche – that’s why microstock like istockphoto has found success. For many smaller clients the cost of higher quality resources like photography and type are often out of reach and as a result end up not being addressed or worse used illegally. The idea is that with access to lower cost yet good quality resources clients and designers alike get hooked, build respect for the tools and move up as soon as they can afford to do so.

I do a lot of work in that middle niche. Well meaning clients who want good design that helps their business succeed. What is exciting about The League of Moveable Type is that they are interested in expanding our ability to spec type online instead of being limited to Arial, Times or whatever else the visitor’s computer has. Instead the designer could host the type which would be transmitted with the design (sort of like pdf files do) so I’m interested to see the landscape change in this regard without over-abusing the talented people behind professional, rights managed resources – but change can be tricky.

The desktop publishing revolution that many of us lived through did not kill off high quality design. On the contrary it became more valuable and recognizable in a market place awash in the cheep software generated lost dog flyers of the early days. But look at the situation now. The web is full of really great creativity – generated cottage industry style by talented creatives with something to share who may not have the kind of fancy agency gig that was once required to access the tools needed. Similarly I don’t believe microstock or open source type will kill off the high quality type foundries. Helvetica isn’t going the way of the dinosaurs. Probably quite the contrary but like all revolutions things will change.


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