Tuesday, 30 May 2023

sit tibi terra levis (10. 777)

Print magazine columnist Steven Heller directs us to an interesting project in the form of a series lithographic prints created from the rubbings (frottage) of the headstones of historic type designed—having to hunt down the final resting places of many of these influential yet sometimes forgotten and neglected individuals. Pictured is a detail from the grave marker of William Caslon I (†1766) interred in St Luke Old Street in London, who started business engraving gun parts before establishing a foundry. Inspired by Dutch Baroque fonts, his Latin types (also producing a character set in Coptic and Hebrew) in a very legible pica size were instantly popular among publishers and the reading public, used in the Cyclopaedia of 1728 and the Declaration of Independence’s version for distribution, that the phrase came about, “when in doubt, use Caslon.” Much more about the project on exhibition and more tombstones at the link up top.

Friday, 19 May 2023

9x9 (10. 752)

x-date: unless a compromise is found to work with the statutory debt ceiling, the US could default on paying its bills and unleash chaos in global financial markets 

the house of mouse: Disney is cancelling plans for a billion dollar Florida annex—and shuttering its immersive Star Wars experience resort hotel—in an ongoing feud with the state’s arch-conservative governor  

garbage patch kids: creepy dolls being washed ashore are auctioned off to benefit marine habitats—see also 

superimposition: researchers at the Zurich Institute of Technology create the world’s largest ‘Schrรถdinger’s Cat” 

the great silence: we are probably not alone in the Universe but we might as well be—see previously  

random access memory: previously unreleased tracks from retired duo Daft Punk  

interior design: browser-based application to create and share voxel rooms, via Waxysee previously  

byte-dance: American state of Montana passes a ban of the social media platform TikTok over conflated fears of violations of users privacy  

seat at the table: G7 summit hosted in Hiroshima—with nuclear deterrence on the agenda

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

9x9 (10. 728)

daily double: Jeopardy! had a all-fonts category with answers in the typefaces they were looking for as the question—via Kottke  

on the eighth day: a 1984 BBC documentary on nuclear winter preparedness—see previously 

a la carte: a century of cultural changes captured in restaurant menus—see previously  

ใ‚ซใ‚ฏใƒ†ใƒซ: an award-winning small Tokyo ex-urb defined Japanese cocktail culture 

that’s so fetch: tech retreats from the Metaverse to the new hotness  

exciton condensates: physicists find a link between photosynthesis and strange states of matter  

cabin crew: the argot of airplane travel 

mutually assured destruction: new analysis of the same Cold War  

grundvig: font-founder Reinadlo Camejo transforms a Copenhagen church into a typeface

Thursday, 4 May 2023

7x7 (10. 718)

eyecandy: a collection of dynamic, animated type—via Pasa Bon!  

grand promenade: a survey of old New York’s rooftop theatres  

expo 67: impressions of the central exhibition of Canada’s centennial celebrations—see previously  

may the fourth be with you: a retro, fan-made Star Wars film festival—see more under the tagged posts  

not lovin’ it: McDonald’s franchises in the United States fined for violations of child labour laws—see also 

playfair: data presentations by the eighteenth century creator of the the line, bar and pie charts 

fontself: the midpoint of the annual Thirty Six Days of Type celebration

Friday, 28 April 2023

8x8 (10. 703)

iter vestrum: a journey to the ends of the Roman Empire with contemporary routing guides—see previously 

the bartender’s travelling book: the secret history of the drinks recipe anthology that has crossed the globe 

eigengrau: a colour palette of what people report to see with their eyes closed—see previously—via Web Curios 

chirper: a social media network only for AI—via ibฤซdem  

casas del turuรฑuelo: first figural representations of the Bronze Age Tartessian culture found, an Iberian people spuriously linked to the myth of Atlantissee also 

aurabesh: a very thorough Star Wars inspired typeface—see also—via Kottke 

toby mug: an assortment of East End brewery labels  

bradshaw’s guide: a travelogue of modern Europe with a Victorian era itinerar—check out Messy Nessy’s new look

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

8x8 (10. 700)

a is for anarchist: a counter-culture abecedarium—see previously  

man o’war: thousands of by-the-wind-sailors (Vellela vellela) wash ashore in California  

runway-zero-one-left: views of random airport exteriors—via Pasa Bon!see previously

manicule: Punctuation Personified: or, Pointing Made Easy (1824)—see also  

pepperoni hug spot: an AI made an intriguingly nightmarish TV commercial 

 jefferies tube: a survey of secret passages—including the ulitidors at Disneyland  

roaring forties: remote Gough Island is hiring 

yon zircle: final-born member of the Bowlin alphabet family passes away, aged 94

Saturday, 22 April 2023

10x10 (10. 690)

shave and a hair-cut: a collection of personalised nineteenth century barber shop occupation mugs

culture wars, cola wars: of course that anti-woke beer is just a huge pandering grift  

architecture in music: the photography of Charles Brooks makes the interiors of instruments appear like megastructures  

million dollar homepage: tout your website for one second of the day—via Web Curios  

knit grotesk: a sewable font

yes, virginia, there is a santa claus: the adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret does not disappoint  

intuitive daily stitching: Karen Turner’s knitted visual diary infographics: compelling visualisations that changed public opinion and scientific consensus 

high life: directed by the Comitรฉ, Belgian customs officials crushes a shipment of two-thousand cans of Miller over its “Champagne of Beers” motto 

hairdressers: a BBC videography library on different aspects of the industry

Sunday, 16 April 2023

penta-vigesimal (10. 678)

Whilst mathematics is universal, there is no monopoly on notation and alternative numbering systems certainly do yield insight on cognition, computation and reckoning parallels. The Western hemisphere’s first new notational system in over a century was developed in the early 1990s, we learn via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest (previously), by a small class of middle school and high school students as part of maths enrichment project in Katovik, Alaska, noting that they didn’t have the numbers to represent all the numbers in Iรฑupiaq in Arabic-Hindi numerals alone for their base-twenty counting, scores used in Danish, French and for some other Inuit family languages), devising and refining a method of arithmetically representing all the native values reckoned on all one’s fingers and toes, with positional correspondence derived from native terms—for example, tallimat (5) coming from taliq (arm) for all of one’s five digits, iรฑuiรฑรฑaq (20) meaning a whole person or the glyph for zero or null a gesture of negation. A marked increase in scores on standardised mathematics tests for indigenous communities using notational systems that more closely match their ethnographic heritage not only helps with student achievement but demonstrates for all involved that numeracy is embedded within their culture and not something imparted by western hegemony. Learn more at the links above.

Sunday, 2 April 2023

7x7 (10. 651)

spyvibe radio: The Man Called Flintstone and other cartoon-espionage crossovers  

hosanna, hin-nam: Palm Sunday from the donkey’s perspective—see previously  

made to order: a huge font specimen of a wide range of borders—see previously 

a1: a centenary of road numbering for the Ministry of Transportation 

rather fetching: canine portraits at London’s Wallace Collection  

sparkie williams: a very talkative budgie and other loquacious birds  

rabbit hole: new Kiefer Sutherland secret agent film channels vintage intelligence dramas

Saturday, 1 April 2023

7x7 (10. 649)

the house of mouse: Disney lawyers thwart Florida governor’s interference plans by linking status quo to the British monarchy 

the highrise collection: a drone exploration of beautiful early twentieth century skyscrapers of the US

mambabatok: Vogue Philippines has 106-year-old traditional tattoo Apo Whang-Od artist on its cover  

fraktur folk art: the lettering of German dissident รฉmigrรฉ communities in Pennsylvania (see also

pretty fly for a white guy: Finnish politicians, as their rapping alter-egos Qruu and Cstar, drop some rhymes for their campaign platform—via Miss Cellania    

gelatinous cube: the 1977 Dungeon’s & Dragons Monster Manual  

g: all. of. the. above: a Trump indictment quiz

Friday, 31 March 2023

caret notation (10. 648)

 Brilliantly our AI wrangler Janelle Shane (previously) points us to fun test for chatbots that while prising some insight into their inner workings without the danger of producing nightmare-inspiring outcomes by giving the prompt to create ASCII art, moreover asking it rate its creations. Here are a few that I asked ChatGPT to create, with rather surreal summaries (of showing one’s work) following. Give it a try and share your results with us.


Thursday, 23 March 2023

full stop (10. 630)

Under the direction of design editor Lou Silverstein in 1961, the New York Times removed its signature diamond period from its nameplate in an overhaul that employed outside inkers and letterers to modernise the paper, which much like the general assault against punctuation (see previously here, here and here) caused at the time much consternation. The draft for the masthead redesign was finally approved with the argument that leaving out the terminal “full point” would save $600 a year on the printing-presses.

Sunday, 5 March 2023

points d’intonation (10. 593)

Via Present /&/ Correct we are referred to a suite of needful, progressive punctuation marks invented primarily by French writer Hervรฉ Bazin—like the pictured appeal to authority and appeal to conviction, best known for his popular, semi-autobiographical novels about teen-angst and family dysfunction, who also essayed radical spelling reform for the French language in the mid-1960s, a campaign called Plumons l’Oiseau (“Let’s Pluck the Bird”), which proposed a nearly phonetic system, supplemented with six disambiguating glyphs additionally to express acclamation, doubt, irony and love.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

๐Ÿ”™๐Ÿ”›๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ”œ (10. 589)

Language Log directs us to the ongoing puzzlement over a grouping of four emoji—from the original set created in 1998 for DoCoMoNTT (the only symbol predating this innovation being the ❤︎) and what cultural context prompted the inclusion of these four particular characters, surmising that they were a reference to gaming menus but with no compelling narrative for their inclusion—instead, like most other stories about these glyphs, have found novel and dynamic use outside of the laboratory—see also here and here.

Friday, 24 February 2023

double you (10. 571)

Having previously explored the letter w as a semi-vowel and interventions to making English’s Latin inheritance more legible at speed, we enjoyed this further examination, via Strange Company, on how uu became w through the intermediary runic character called wynn (ฦฟ), becoming the preferred representation of the sound from the eight century on for clarity’s sake with the ligatured form coming to dominate scripts around thirteen hundred.

Thursday, 23 February 2023

numeronym (10. 568)

Whilst the number-based word is an abbreviation as in K9 for canine (and it’s interesting to consider the range of emoji suggested when typing, especially when code-switching a “fee…” produces ๐Ÿงš‍♂️—from the German—or eliciting a torrent of other non sequitur symbols) is the most common usage, it can also refer to the contraction in the form of omitting the second through penultimate letters of word and replacing them with their numerical count, usually a longer word but not necessarily, for example: h7k for hyperlink, s5n for shorten or g11n for globalisation. The first needful and non-cryptic reduction and redaction was in the assignment of an email address for an employee with a surname too long for the mail daemon to handle so Jan Scherpenhuizen was assigned “S12n” with coworkers coming to refer to him by his truncated name, with such original constrained handles becoming somewhat of a badge of honour in that business’ corporate culture.

Thursday, 9 February 2023

iso 7001 (10. 537)

As Paris releases its pictogram family for their upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, Present /&/ Correct directs us to an omnibus collection of universal signs and symbols developed for all the Olympiads from 1964 on, highlighting some of their favourites (and ours as well). See how these coats-of-arms for each event compare to earlier iterations.  Much more at the links above.

Monday, 30 January 2023

distrans (10. 511)

Though aware of the differences in international editions it had never occurred to me that illustrated covers were set in a specific type over its first printings, like these UK volumes with titles in Giorgio, fittingly a sort of space-age spaghetti Western font, we were unfamiliar with the mystery surrounding—via Boing Boing—the visual identity of Frank Herbert’s original trilogy from 1975 on, eventually encompassing all of the author’s work. and work about the author and franchise. An uncredited typographer lettered a modified version of Davison Art Nouveau, a font never digitised and can only be licensed from a single catalogue of a particular Manhattan foundry. Many more examples at Fonts in Use at the link above.

Friday, 27 January 2023

ars notaria (10. 503)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest linkfest, which is a delight in itself to check in on often, we are introduced to the Cistercian system of ciphers, almost rune-like, developed by the monastic order parallel to the arrival of the Hindu-Arabic numerals in northwestern Europe which gradually replaced Roman notation, this stave system of units was far more compact and convenient for transcription as a single glyph could represent any value from one to ten-thousand. The pattern for forming higher numbers becomes apparent and later scholars expanded the system exponentially into the trillions. While seemingly not used for calculation, manuscripts from the thirteenth century show that they were used for numbering lists, indices, tables, musical notation and foliation—that is, page numbers. For more exploration and for a challenge (see also), click through to find source code to make a Cistercian clock.

Monday, 23 January 2023

6x6 (10. 492)

zhengyue 2: the second day of the Lunar New Year is considered the birthday of all dogs 

only took the m’f’er fifteen tries: Randy Rainbow lampoons Kevin McCartney with a parody of ‘Master of the House’ from Les Misรฉrables 

i shot the serif: US Department of State drops the typeface Times New Roman in favour of the more legible Calibri font  

yellow magic orchestra: watch performances by the Japanese group that created some of the most innovative and influential acts in electronic music  

odonymy: more open etymological street maps—see also  

tet: a short, hand-drawn game about cooking and serving a Vietnamese holiday meal—via Waxy