Friday, 27 May 2022

8x8

city in a bottle: a bit of micro-coding from Frank Force (previously) decoded—via Waxy    

kr: the Icelandic Graphic Design Association (FรT, Fรฉlag รญslenskra teiknara) issues a challenge to come up with a glyph for their krรณna  

nรฉcessaire: a French borrowing—see also—for kit and carry  

enough: TIME magazine’s cover lists the two-hundred thirteen US cities that have had mass-shootings this year, so far  

social sentinel: a look at the dubious pre-crime predictive software that ill-serves society and the reliance on tech to come to the rescue in general  

party line: last bank of public phones removed from New York City—see also here, here, here and here  

swiss miss: Tina Roth Eisenberg celebrates her seventeenth blogoversary tesserae: MIT Lab develops autonomous modular tiles to create structures and habitats in space

Sunday, 22 May 2022

nsibidi

Having encountered the pictographic, symbolic system of writing beforehand as the export, cultural transmission of veve via the transatlantic trade of enslaved people, we appreciated this further gloss on nsibidi used by the Ekoi, Efik and Igbo peoples of southern Nigeria, its use far from ornamental for wall and fabric designs, tattoos and calabashes, decorated gourds, and maintained as a form of communication and documentation by semi-secret societies, the everyday use of its public-facing, profane set of glyphs and secret, sacred characters (plus an extended character set reserved for the exclusive use of women—see also) is much diminished after colonial occupation. Archaeological evidence and ethnographic studies suggest that this still living and adapting script was in use as early as the fifth century AD and developmentally is as sophisticated as the more familiar hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians—though without the same level of public interest or provenance.

Friday, 20 May 2022

alcuin

Poet, academic, Abbot of Tours and recruited into the court of Charlemagne who wanted to retain “the most learned man anywhere to be found,” Alcuin of York (previously) is feted as a blessed man on this day on the occasion of the anniversary of his death in 804 (*735, actually a day prior but upstaged by the veneration of Dunstan). A prolific writer and scholar, Alcuin, styled in Latin Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, contributed to the creation of and standardisation of Carolingian minuscule—that is, mixed case script, credited with the invention of the question mark and among his teaching materials is a collection of maths word problems and logic puzzles called Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes (Problems to Sharpen Youths—see also) which includes the first written mention of the wolf, goat and cabbage problem wherein a farmer is challenged to get himself and his purchases to the opposite bank of a river with everything intact.

Friday, 6 May 2022

7x7

⚠️: a pictogramatical survey of caution wet floor signs—via Pasa Bon!  

load-bearing bifurcation: engineers incorporate sturdy, often-discarded tree forks in construction  

thameside tv: clips from London’s first pirate station—see also  

no tofu: the Noto typeface (previously) a suite of emoji  

unit patch: the more inscrutable badges of the US Space Force—see previously  

pocket mac: the process of designing a fake vintage product 

: Unicode Consortium’s growing list of astronomical glyphs, magical charms

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Via Boing Boing, we are directed towards a mysterious, little used symbol on the Miscellaneous Technical block of Unicode known variously as Right Angle Downward Zig-Zag Arrow or by the name of an apocryphal (not on our demonic calendar but nonetheless can be summoned with an & into HTML) infernal earl called Angzarr, and going down this rabbit hole to find out more about the character (see previously) reveals a lot about the origins of typesetting, coding and what artefacts and skeuomorphs get preserved. No definitive answer is yielded up yet the value is all in the journey and of course one can—like with a suite of emoji—assign it a meaning. To me the sigil looks like a representation of three-dimensional axes and an easy way to convey depth. What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

8x8

catwalk: the home of architect of Vittorio Garatti in Milan—via Messy Nessy Chic  

inktrap: a Japanese typeface design book from 1957—via Present /&/ Correct  

operation danube: the Soviet invasion of Prague (see previously) in pictures—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

east-enders: a retrospective look at women protesting for peace in the 1980s in London  

river antban country club: blindly, an AI tries naming golfing ranges (see previously

carrousel: Logan’s Run plus spin-offs—see previously

bones mccoy: a compilation of Deforest Kelley pronouncing  

not chav: a fresh perspective on London’s council houses

Saturday, 19 February 2022

7x7

a fistful of manicules: Shady Characters explores several font specimens of the typographers’ mark—see previously  

la conquรชte du pain: an anarcho-communist bakery going strong in Montreuil  

peeping tom: Facebook’s demise following that of mySpace  

storyliving: Disneyland pre-retirement communities—via Web Curios 

erste jahrzehnten: German Design Awards marks its first decade with a special exhibit  

sold for sol 1800: it appears that Melania Trump purchased her own NTF—via New Shelton wet/dry 

i shot the serif: foundry Neubau Berlin pays homage to Mid-Century international fonts

Thursday, 17 February 2022

to know wisdom and instruction—to perceive the words of understanding

Venerated as a saint in multiple faith traditions, Mesrop Mashtots (ี„ีฅีฝึ€ีธีบ ี„ีกีทีฟีธึ), early medieval linguist, theologian and statesman, passing away on this day in 440 (*362), was the inventor of the Armenian alphabet—the first phrase rendered in that new script said to be the above passage from the Book of Proverbs. Further credited by some scholars as the creator of the Caucasian Albanian and Georgian forms of writing, Mashtot’s contribution first in royal court in service to the king and later after taking holy orders ensured that Armenian literature and identity was preserved rather than being absorbed by its larger neighbouring empires of Persia and Syria. Finalised around the year 405, the Greek-modelled system endured in its original form of thirty-six letters until the twelfth century when three additional ones were added—for f- and o-sounds, the Armenian word for alphabet, aybuben (ีกีตีขีธึ‚ีขีฅีถ) comes from the first two letters, ayb (ีก) and ben (ีข).

Friday, 11 February 2022

7x7

heiti and songti: the typefaces that helped China transition to the digital age 

no soup for you: the Fay-Cutler malapropism (see previously) of the week 

memphis milano: iconic design studio of Ettore Sottsass (previously) acquired by Italian furniture company  

earn it act: controversial bill restricting encryption—presented as an anti-trafficking and child safety initiative (see also) passes committee in the US Senate  

quantitative easing: lampooning practises that exacerbate inflation and speculation, an artist in Kuala Lumpur opens Memebank  

all hail hypnotoad: Futurama (previously) returns for an eighth season—with most of the original talent  

dingbats: a typographic homage to pre-emoji Webdings—see also for one carry-over

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

the tavistock letter

We learn that aided by machine learning, researchers have been able to finally decipher the “savage stenographic mystery” (see previously) of the brachygraphy of Charles Dickens, a shorthand he learned during his first career as a court reporter and developed into an idiosyncratic script of his own design for taking notes on his working manuscripts during his later literary career. Though select correspondence and marginalia has been cracked, there is quite a huge corpus of drafts left to decode. Much more at Open Culture at the link above.

Friday, 4 February 2022

de finibus bonorum et malorum

Spotted by Super Punch, New York Times sports writer Andrew Keh took note of the inspiring captions on posters for the Winter Games in the hotel he’s based out of. Lorem ipsum is placeholder text used in draft copies before the final version is available (see previously) and is adapted from a passage from the above Socratic dialogue of Roman orator Cicero (meaning on the ends of good and evil, a rather heavy subject for a throw-away endeavour), popularised in typesetting since the 1960s by a Letraset transfer sheets ad campaign, this pictured call-out begins “the pain is important to me” but non-standard, breaks down from there. Traditionally, the passage, which could very much apply to the spirit of competition, continues: “[B]ut occasionally circumstances happen wherein toil and pain can procure some pleasure. To take a trivial example, whom of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with one who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no pleasure?”

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

7x7

reset: audiences of a hugely popular show in China about a video game programmer stuck in a time loop are upset about its positive ending  

orszรกgos kรฉktรบra: Hungary’s national long distance walking route (see also) from Irottkล‘ to the Austrian border 

the book of fate: an 1822 edition that appealed to contemporary British preoccupation with Ancient Egypt and Napoleon  

we only remember ‘long polio’: contemplating the lingering, debilitating effect of severe cases  

boharat cairo: a foundry explores the possibilities of Arabic script expression 

 encanto: we need to talk about Bruno  

where is my mind: an edit of problematic fav Fight Club available for streaming in China follows some different rules

corporate identity

We thoroughly enjoyed this object lesson in the importance of logos and branding via this collaborative work-space application called Kapwing taught by filtering iconic emblems through a suite of different graphical eras and movements—from Art Nouveau to Bauhaus, Psychedelic, Pop Art, Retro 80s and 3D. Check out the full matrix of iterations and various big name brands at the link above.

Friday, 7 January 2022

7x7

sick sad world: our crypto-bro, cyberpunk dystopia  

brik: aesthetic LEGO typography  

just keep swimming: mobile aquaria allow fish to drive—via the morning news  

molten path: an ancient—though not inaccessible—airburst over the Atacama shed shards of glass across Chile—see also   

thinking of you, i mean me: a Barbara Kruger (previously) retrospective in Chicago on capitalism and its critique

queued-up: Instagram versus reality

a listicle in eight parts: Cory Doctorow expounds on the scam of fintech—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Saturday, 25 December 2021

a ‘savage stenographic mystery’

Reminiscent of another challenge recently recalled involving shorthand and its devotees, we learn courtesy of Strange Company that not only did author Charles Dickens make an early living as a court-recorder using the brachygraphic system of Thomas Gurney (trained as a clockmaker and developed his shorthand out of a fascination with astrological symbols, realised that there was little financially to be gained from scribbling and sensibly returned to the horological industry) and continued to use it for personal correspondents and manuscript (supplementing the character-set with glyphs of his own invention), there are moreover writings of the studied and celebrated novelist yet to be deciphered. There’s an appeal with an honorarium attached for decoding a passage in a text known as the Tavistock Letter and call for help in general in completing the canon.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

latinxua

Similar to other courtesy alphabets and attempts at Latinisation we have encountered before—with varying degrees or success and reception (see here and here), the always engrossing Language Log introduces us to the above transcription scheme also known as Sin Wenz (“New Script”) developed by Russian and Chinese Sinologists and saw widespread use in the 1930s and 1940s. This first attempt as Romanisation (see previously) had native speakers as stakeholders and notably did not attempt to indicate tonal shifts as those were expected to be made clear by context. Much more at the links above.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

8x8

schwibbogen: a look at Germany’s Erzgebirge’s Christmas decorative arts traditions—see also

lakshmi-narayan: a looted sculpture returned to Nepal becomes a god again  

wind in your sails: a giant kite will pull a ship across the ocean in a demonstration project to cut emissions

all songs considered: NPR’s Bob Boilen’s recommended listening from the past year  

farmscrapers: advances in hydroponics and robot-assisted harvesting are making vehicle crop-growing a reality  

wysiwyg: Anna Mills on her typography and creative outlook  

carry on regardless: the comic language pf Professor Stanley Unwin  

god rest you merry, gentlemen: the comma in this carol makes us wonder about punctuation

Friday, 10 December 2021

fuzzwords of the year

Differentiated from buzzwords as something intentionally euphemistic or vague and so perhaps under the radar of censors and above a certain level of reproach, we enjoyed learning some of the current slanguage vocabulary of China. We especially liked the Mandarin / Putonghua near equivalent for the English acronym GOAT—that is, greatest of all time—in yว’ngyuวŽn de shรฉn (ๆฐธ่ฟœ็š„็ฅž) YYDS, “eternal god” and used to heap praise for excellence. As the author points out, the same transliterated, four-letter initialism is also employed for yว’ngyuวŽn dฤnshฤ“n (ๆฐธ่ฟœๅ•่บซ), essential “forever single”—so context counts. Much more at Language Log at the link above.

Friday, 26 November 2021

mysterium hoc arcanum

Located to the left door jamb of the Baptistery of Pisa, one of the other ensemble of buildings in the Piazzia dei Miracoli often upstaged by the cathedral’s campanile, the structure designed by architect Diotisalvi and built from 1153 to 1363 contains an undeciphered epigraph, which while representing an unknown script, is not unique—lost though having

appeared in Lucca and other places in Tuscany—is suggested to in a sense a kind of gamification to hunt for such mystery inscriptions and debate, contemplate what they might mean without any definitive interpretation established. Courtesy of one of the commentators, here is the puzzle to solve.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

♡̂

Although one might be forgiven that the initial summary conclusion of semiotician—a student of processes and signifiers, like flow-charts and equations—Charles K. Bliss (*1897 - †1895, born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but migrated to Australia after the war and release from concentration camps via Shanghai) was that the strife in his homeland was caused by the inability to communicate, we suppose that one only need look at his Blissymbols as a precursor (see also) to our extended character-set of emoji. The constructed ideographic writing system first expounded in 1949 and elaborated subsequently, even assigned its own ISO script block. Originally championed as a heuristic for teaching grammar to those with learning challenges, a set of Blissymbols were adapted into the universal suite of directional and informational glyphs found at train terminals, airports, stadia and hotels following the tourist explosion and jet-setting of the 1960s. More to explore at the links above.