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John Savard


John Savard
Last Active
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    The short-term profit of a few, may cause the long-term loss of many.

    So one should reject good (that is also both legal and moral) business opportunity because someone somewhere thinks it might affect their career choices at some unspecified point in the future?

    No. But if that someone somewhere was right, then possibly there might be a case. At present, I have to admit I'm not connecting to Hrant's argument that this threatens "the power of type". But that may be for pedantic reasons: as the power of type is an intrinsic property of type, things like this can't make type less powerful, it can only cheapen that power by making it more easily available.

    But one man's "cheapen" is another man's "democratize", and surely this would also apply to Google Fonts or open-source fonts in general. Where there is a specific issue with what IBM is doing is also unclear.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    And free to use for any budding rival of IBM...
    Don't worry, I think co-opting IBM's font identity is the last thing any "budding rival of IBM" that wanted to establish any sort of credibility would want to do.

    I will definitely admit that if IBM were in the business of, say, making children's building blocks, or movies, or consumer products of a number of varieties, imitating the number one maker's typography would indeed be a way to win customers almost subconsciously.

    But IBM isn't in that kind of an industry, especially now that it's shed its personal computer line. Instead, they sell their products to large businesses, and they're big-ticket items that are purchased as the result of a very conscious process.
  • Re: Plex; IBM's new font identity model

    Gifting third-parties a way to visually mimic/parody/mock you is bad branding.
    Oh, I agree. That's why I found this an unusual announcement. Which is also partly why I didn't think of the Google font in connection with this, as that was for interfaces, not documentation and advertising.

    For an example of font exclusivity, first Yu-Gi-Oh cards from the start and after a design revision, Magic: the Gathering cards as well, use a special font for their text to help prevent counterfeiting.

    As for Plex itself: the sans-serif lowercase l is unusual, although I applaud the effort to achieve a Bell Gothic-like level of unambiguity. The general design of the sans-serif is evocative of Letter Gothic.

    After looking at the whole typeface, I have a few more general comments.

    The sans is even more inspired by News Gothic, although Letter Gothic does seem to have contributed a degree of inspiration to both it and the mono. The mono distinguishes zero with a dot, and combines a conventional upper case with a somewhat squarish lower case. The serif is similar to a number of other slab-serifs of a type that has become currently fashionable.

    As for the coverage, it doesn't even have Cyrillic and Greek, which are much more closely related to the Latin script than Arabic.
  • Re: Dutch IJ with dots

    People can learn to read things as complex as Chinese;
    Yes, they can.

    The Chinese writing system is not as complex as is popularly believed by outsiders. A native speaker of Chinese - particularly the Mandarin dialect, but this is true of other Sinitic languages as well - does not need to memorize even 3,000 characters, let alone 40,000, in order to read Chinese.

    Instead, about 500 characters - individual symbols, and ideographic compounds, such as sun + moon for "bright" - need to be memorized. Other characters can then be read on the basis of their component parts: a radical (boushou, literally "classifier") and a phonetic - a previously-known character having the same pronunciation.

    However, to write Chinese, one does have to memorize exactly which phonetic to use, as there are multiple possibilities, for each character of this type. If one uses the wrong phonetic, one's handwritten Chinese will still be understood, but, as with English, spelling mistakes give one away as illiterate. (The good news, of course, is that if one does enough reading, one will eventually learn correct spelling without too much effort.)

    The complexity of Chinese writing, therefore, has to an even greater extent the same destructive result as the complexity of English spelling: reinforcing social stratification, increasing the amount of time children must spend in school.
  • Re: Dutch IJ with dots

    With regard to keyboards, yes it is the case that computer keyboards have omitted the IJ/ij letter, obliging Dutch users to type I+J/i+j. However, IJ appeared frequently on typewriter keyboards in the Netherlands e.g. Remington Noiseless Portable
    As I noted, back in the 1970s, ij would have appeared on the keyboards of computer terminals in the Netherlands, because it was part of the Dutch national versions of 7-bit ASCII under ISO 646, even if it got lost in the switch to 8 bits. And that was doubtless a consequence of the fact that the character was usually found on Dutch typewriters.

    So while it may be that the younger generation no longer thinks of "ij" as a letter of their alphabet, I suspect that anyone my age in Holland definitely does think of it in this way.