We’ve incorporated our blog into our new website. Same unique combination of posts about chocolate and bicycles, design and architecture but in a shiny new wrapper: brainstormoverload.com/blog We hope you’ll drop by and linger as long as you like.
If you’ve seen enough Arial, Times and Verdana to last a lifetime I’m happy to report that more progress is being made on improving the typographic experience online. Google has joined the open source type crusade with the launch of Google Font Directory. While still in beta part of Google’s effort includes standardizing the experience of type across browsers which means not only readers will benefit but developers have something to fall in love with as well. For more on this topic also see post: The League of Movable Type.
The word “and” is the equivalent of verbal synergy. Granted I am guilty of being long winded at times and of lovingly constructing many a run on sentence. But, I love the word and for the way it smoothly links two ideas together in some sort of interesting relationship that just seems to go beyond what each of those thoughts could have accomplished on their own. Strange then that I rarely use an ampersand. If you’re like me and feel a need to redeem yourself to the typography gods or if you’re already a true believer in the mighty ampersand then you’ll want to take a virtual stroll over to the website 300&65. As you can already guess this site presents a different ampersand for each and everyday of the year… even on bank holidays.
I found this video on Twisted Sifter and while it may not be the most exciting eleven minutes you ever spend it’s a pretty cool example of the synergy that can happen when you think outside of the box. The basic story is how the time spent typing a captcha (the distorted type used as an online security device) has been turned to a productive purpose and will in less than twelve months completely digitize the analog archives (all isses between 1851 and the mid 1980′s) of the New York Times one word at a time. That’s 130 years worth of newspapers. Facebook, Ticketmaster, Craigslist, and Twitter are among the sites using the new re-captcha technology so you and 400 million other people have already helped.
Update: Thanks to Bill Skellenger I can share with you that if 11 minutes of insight into human computing was not enough Luis von Ahn is featured in a full 50 minute Google TechTalk that is full of all kinds of interesting stuff. Put on your thinking cap before pressing play.
While I’m not sure you’ll want to typeset the annual report your working on in BikeType by London based designer Emma Webb you’ve got to admit it’s pretty fun. You can check this and some of her more practical creations on her Behance portfolio with the equally fun title “ideas are shiny”.
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.