I’m not a big comics fan, but have always been curious about the standard style of lettering. Now available as downloadable typefaces, the ‘comic book font’—which is more variable than might first appear—arose due to constraints such as people’s handwriting and poor quality paper.
Imagine if the words sunglasses, thunder, continent, and sorrow were suddenly replaced with a single, brand-new word that meant each of those things, depending on their context. How would writers respond? How would readers know which meaning you were seeking when the new word was used? This is what is happening to designers.
Walsh goes on to discuss the ways different jobs are signified in the board game ‘The Game of Life’, and posits:
And what about jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago? A Market Research Data Miner. A Millennial Generational Expert. Social Media Manager. What do those look like? What images conjure up fantasies to kids wondering what they’ll be when they grow up? What would those illustrations look like in The Game of Life?
Stranger Things’s opening credits are an ode to typography. The drama’s title emerges only after the credits have woven their way through them, the lines that make up the letters glowing like the red neon bars of a Motel sign.
I knew it was reminiscent of something, but wasn’t sure what. It turns out that the typeface, ITC Benguiat, is also used on the Choose Your Own Adventure books, as well as Strangeways, Here We Come by The Smiths.
The typeface’s designer, Ed Benguiat, also designed logos and typefaces for Ford, the New York Times and Playboy, as well as Planet Of The Apes and Twin Peaks.
(Of course, you can make your own Stranger Things logo.)
As an early adopter of Modernist themes in retailing, John Lewis used Helvetica from the 1970s to the 90s. A classical note was struck in 1989 with the introduction of Elan capitals for the store names in the John Lewis Partnership (including many acquired stores such as Coles Brothers and Pratts, which were still known by their original names until the 1990s).
I always liked this monogram-style logo by Hans Scheduler, originally from the 1960s:
After Helvetica, the company went on to use (briefly) Elan and now a modified Gill Sans:
It was not until this century that Gill Sans was introduced as the John Lewis type family. Interviewed in 2001 for the John Lewis in-house magazine, Cooper had acknowledged the need for further change: ‘The new typeface we will be using on everything from signage to stationery is very elegant and looks contemporary – ironic really, as Eric Gill designed it in the 1920s.’
A typically great talk by Maciej, who appears on this site more than most:
This talk isn’t about any of those. It’s about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.
While I’ll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.
The search for the red wolf’s origins have led scientists to a new theory about how evolution actually works.
i put “All I Want for Christmas is You” through a MIDI converter, and then back through an mp3 converter
the result is this garbage
In short: rather than music criticism, The Music Word Processor is music criticism criticism. This blog is a space to explore questions like: what is the state of music writing in the 21st century? Is the corporatization of music writing inevitable? What are the kinds of narratives constructed by music writers and publications?
From a newsletter by Patrick St. Michel about supposedly “Japanese” artists on the web:
At some point in 2015, these badly photoshopped, boring homages to the first generation of vaporwave — which had been released unobtrusively through Mediafire for the most part — outnumbered releases from real Japanese artists. For a while, I just stopped using Bandcamp as a place to explore new Japanese music, because everything tagged “Japan” seemed like a lie. it was annoying, but not as annoying as toggling over to the “best-selling” section and seeing the exact same thing. And all of the albums seemed to come primarily from one place.
Some dangerous myths get plenty of air time: vaccines cause autism, HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. But many others swirl about, too, harming people, sucking up money, muddying the scientific enterprise — or simply getting on scientists’ nerves. Here, Nature looks at the origins and repercussions of five myths that refuse to die.
7: What I’m currently reading
- Weapons of Reason issue 2, on megacities
- The Purple Cloud by M P Shiel, a 1901 science fiction novel
- To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism, and the Urge to Fix Problems that Don’t Exist by Evgeny Morozov, which I started reading a few years ago and forgot about
Since joining Wikipedia a decade ago, 32-year-old Justin Anthony Knapp (username “koavf”) has established himself as the the site’s most active contributor of all time. He has made an astonishing 1,485,342 edits (an average of 385 per day), ranging in topic from Taylor Swift to the history of blacksmithing.
What’s life like as Wikipedia’s most prolific editor? And what has compelled this man to dedicate thousands of hours of his time, knowledge, and energy to an online encyclopedia for absolutely no compensation? We gave him a call to find out.
“Ghosts are real, that much I know,” is the first line spoken in Guillermo del Toro’s swooning Gothic thriller Crimson Peak, which opened to solid reviews but a tepid box office last weekend. In today’s global film economy, sub-par earnings in America don’t necessarily doom a film: Del Toro’s last effort, Pacific Rim, made up for its mediocre domestic performance by being a big hit overseas, especially in China. Producers are hoping the same will happen for Crimson Peak, but there’s one big problem. China’s Film Bureau doesn’t allow movies with ghosts in them, and certainly not movies that assert they’re “real.”
Internet comments are broken. A small population of abusive trolls have ruined Internet commenting for everyone. On this, pretty much everyone can agree. What people can’t agree on is what to do about it […] when you make a comment on Civil Comments, the first thing that happens is you’re asked to rate two other comments on the site for quality and civility. Then before you can post, you are asked to rate your own comment under the same criteria. It’s only then that you can post your comment to the site.
Interesting to see how some news orgs’ CMS’s guard against the accidental or unwanted publication of stories.
Hats! And buttons, sort of.
I’d heard good things about this book. I read it yesterday, and thoroughly recommend it. It’s not about frugal cooking per se; more the ability to extract every little bit of value and use from each component. The ends (often literally) of one ingredient or dish are used to kickstart the next bit of cooking and eating, and things are left over from that to be born again.
If you’re a seasoned cook there won’t be much new here in terms of recipes—it’s not that sort of cookbook—but the combination of the philosophy, cuisine (mostly Mediterranean with a focus on Italian) and writing style are everything I wanted. I came away with lots of good ideas on how to eat better food more simply, carefully and cheaply.
One of things in my office that bugs me more than it should is people lazily shouting out questions that, if typed verbatim into Google, would be answered by Google itself. No need to click through. “What’s the time in New York?”. “How many pounds in a stone?”. That sort of thing. (As an aside, my dear friend and colleague Alex is possibly too far in the other direction. He doesn’t like to bother people, so it’s only when 4 hours of searching doesn’t bring about an answer that he shares his query with the team.)
Anyway. These are called rich answers, and here’s a guide to them. A definitive one. Some 31% of search queries now return a rich answer.
We now live in a world where a New York City sixth grader is making money selling strong passwords. Earlier this month, Mira Modi, 11, began a small business at dicewarepasswords.com, where she generates six-word Diceware passphrases by hand.
This is terrific. As you might guess from the ebooks part of the name, it creates Markov chains from your tweets, but it forms rhyming couplets and sets them to MIDI music. Brilliant.
Most weeks I am ridiculed by someone for insisting on plain language – avoiding acronyms and technical language / jargon in particular. People tell me that I’m slowing the team down by making them use proper words, and that their end users or stakeholders expect them to use technical language.
These things are both true. You should still use plain language.
Traveling coast-to-coast across the United States by train is one of the world’s greatest travel experiences. Amazingly, it’s also one of the world’s greatest travel bargains — the 3,400-mile trip can cost as little as $213.
It’s over here, detectives. The body was found about an hour ago.
Use the active voice, rookie.
Ten years ago this month the Guardian launched its Berliner format. We talk to its creative team about a decade of rapid change at the paper, and examine how design is now more important than ever in helping us navigate an increasingly complicated media landscape…
Ed Houben is Europe’s most virile man. And after years of donating sperm the “normal” way (sterile room, cup, cash), he and some women looking to get pregnant for free began cutting out the middlemen and getting it done as nature prefers it (sex!). Today, Houben has over a hundred children—and Ed the Babymaker is in greater demand than ever. We imagine you have some questions
The algorithms behind Discover Weekly finds users who have built playlists featuring the songs and artists you love. It then goes through songs that a number of your kindred spirits have added to playlists but you haven’t heard, knowing there is a good chance you might like them, too. Finally, it uses your taste profile to filter those findings by your areas of affinity and exploration. Because the playlist, that explicit act of curation, is both the source of the signal and the final output, the technique can achieve results far more interesting than run of the mill collaborative filtering.
8: Me Inc.
The paradoxical, pressure-filled quest to build a “personal brand.”
It was one of the dullest speeches I ever heard. The Agee woman told us for three quarters of an hour how she came to write her beastly book, when a simple apology was all that was required.
Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.
A truly terrific album gets a good anniversary review.
Apologies To The Queen Mary is far more approachable, an album that spins universal reverie out of family trauma, relational struggle, and spiritual crisis. It’s music that renders the horror and delight of life on Earth as an epic struggle we all share. “I’ll believe in anything!” Krug sings at the album’s peak, desperately reaching for a fresh start and the freedom of some anti-Cheers: “where nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn.” Apologies To The Queen Mary itself can function as that kind of common ground, a set of inspiring songs many kinds of people can rally around, if only for a few fleeting moments. A decade into its history, it remains music worth believing in.
11: Future reading
I’m not entirely swayed by this piece—straw men abound—but it seems to have gotten a lot of people talking about books and reading and formats and focus, and that can only be a good thing.
From 2009 to 2013, every book I read, I read on a screen. And then I stopped. You could call my four years of devout screen‑reading an experiment. I felt a duty – not to anyone or anything specifically, but more vaguely to the idea of ‘books’. I wanted to understand how their boundaries were changing and being affected by technology. Committing myself to the screen felt like the best way to do it.
On what street did you lose your childlike sense of wonder?
It’s not that designers coding is totally irrelevant right now; I would happily debate that with anyone interested. But if software is eating the world, software design ought to be as diverse as the world itself. I would encourage designers to think about their roles and skills in the broadest sense, in terms of their knowledge of humanity and the world, rather than the technical deliverables of today. Divergent processes will become mandatory for survival and in the future I expect the question “should designers code?” to make as much sense as “should urban planners carve wood?” Our practice on the other end of this moment has a good chance of entering the most diverse, vital era we’ve ever known, which should be celebrated and encouraged rather than squashed and judged.
New fiction podcast: part Serial, part X-Files. A bit hammy at times, but promising.
Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again.
In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, “What happened to the people of Limetown?”
These aren’t your prototypical bucket-and-pail sand structures. Matt Kaliner’s creations deserve an architectural category all their own.
She has a knack for a good story, she’s great with people. Sure she couldn’t remember whether the Prime Minister of Great Britain attended her 40th birthday party. But then, who does remember these sorts of finer details?
Sure, but he’s making over $160k per day on new registrations.
It’s a beautiful, elegant solution that gets it all wrong, and it’s time to move on.
The ballpoint’s universal success has changed how most people experience ink. Its thicker ink was less likely to leak than that of its predecessors. For most purposes, this was a win—no more ink-stained shirts, no need for those stereotypically geeky pocket protectors. However, thicker ink also changes the physical experience of writing, not necessarily all for the better.
I tweeted to kids as a piece of cheese for a year. “My time as a cheese taught me that the internet is run by pre-teen girls (they were clearly that young, from their profile pictures and dodgy spelling), and that their fandoms demarcate the geography of Twitter. That social media, all its self-promotion and factions and bitching, was made not for childish adults so much as for actual children.”
Architects I work for just gave the best reactions I’ve ever seen in person. “I work as an intern at an office for a few architects as a draftsman. I make 2D drawings and 3D visualizations. I came with the idea to make one of their project into a VR experience and they liked the idea. They gave me a project to work with, which was a perfect fit for VR (a brand new college in Amsterdam with beautiful inside and outside spaces).”
The gorgeous typeface that drove men mad and sparked a 100-year mystery. “Over the course of more than a hundred illicit nightly trips, this man was committing a crime—against his partner, a man who owned half of what was being heaved into the Thames, and against himself, the force that had spurred its creation. This venerable figure, founder of the legendary Doves Press and the mastermind of its typeface, was a man named T.J. Cobden Sanderson. And he was taking the metal type that he had painstakingly overseen and dumping thousands of pounds of it into the river.”
A new index to measure sprawl gives high marks to Los Angeles. “There is perhaps no more vexing issue for urban policy makers than sprawl. And yet, there’s little consensus on how best to accurately measure it. It’s one thing to impugn the phenomenon for contributing to everything from long commutes, congested highways and worsening air pollution to growing segregation, poverty, obesity and mounting health problems. But it’s another to actually gauge the connection between sprawl and that daunting list of social and economic ills.” The curious and surprising thing here being that the ‘high marks’ in the article title refer to LA’s low levels of sprawl.
Influenced by. Ryan Boudinot (among other writers) on David Foster Wallace: “I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong feeling that a book was going to change my writing so thoroughly. And of course it did, to the point where a lot of what I wrote for years afterward sounded imitative. That’s always the scary thing—we want so badly to be considered sui generis and hide our influences, but I go back to what Stevie Wonder once said about being afraid of not being influenced by great art. Infinite Jest seemed to me to continue the project that Pynchon was working on, to marry erudition to verbal looseness.” I’m slowly working my way through IJ for the second time. My first was a cold read, not really prepared for its density and length. Coming at it after having read so much about the book, its author, genesis and cultural reception, it is a very different experience. It feels like we’re nearing a Jeff Buckley-type situation, where DFW is over-romanticised to near-cliche by melancholy straight white males, but I’m hopeful his brilliance will outshine any such dismissal.
The movements are Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, Bauhaus, American Industrial Design, Modernism, and Postmodernism.
To make this, I worked with Clive Hilton, from The Open University’s Design department, and Thought Den, a bunch of talented and handsome designers, developers and animators from Bristol.
With more time or money I’d have loved to include a couple more design movements. But I really like how this came out—there are some genuinely funny moments in the videos, and the quiz/diagnostic tool thing is pretty great. People seem to really like sharing their design alter-ego on Facebook and Twitter.
One thing to note is that the design department at the OU is based in the Maths, Computing and Technology faculty, and so is more focused on product design than what we might naïvely term art and design. I don’t think this is a problem, though: these design concepts should be of interest to designers of all types and help us all understand how we got where we are.
(Btw, my design alter-ego is Ludwig Georg Van Der Pound, modernist. Have a play and see what yours is.)
Image copyright The Open University, used with permission.