There is a lot of “stylistic” choice (curation) involved in constructing such devices, in deciding where to place the sources on a simple two-axis grid, bearing in mind that PANOSE has way more than two dimensions!
It breaks down with things like disjunctive forms of /a and /g (one- and two-storey).
It also reminds me of the FontFont poster from a few years ago, black and yellow, in which all their typefaces were arranged in like groups. I couldn’t find a picture of it online; it’s somewhere in my studio…
Usually, this kind of scientific dabbling could use some grounding in type culture, to avoid starting at square one as if nobody had walked these paths before.
I’m like “Oh dear, the spacing is terrible, I suck”—until I realize my beautiful typeface has been violated. But then I become philosophical and appreciate that they have (hopefully) paid to licence the font, and that I am quite prepared to accept the bad with the good—which is all the brilliant uses typographers have dreamed up for my typefaces, that I could never have imagined.
If something can only be acquired by paying for it, people will pay.
Discriminating typographers appreciate the subtle differences between typefaces.
Ergo, there will always be a market for original typefaces.
Having said that, I must admit that my new types don’t sell as well as my older, established ones; I realize that I could make more money by spending less time making fonts and more time marketing them—and while I have always pursued ideas that interest me, perhaps what interests me now doesn’t interest others as much as what did in the past.
It seems that if a typeface can gain some traction in the marketplace when it is fresh, it will continue to sell.
The trick is to produce a design with just the right amount of novelty, make sure that it is well exposed, and that it will catch people’s attention by being relevant to contemporary design issues.
Beyond that, there are one’s brand and reputation to consider, which, along with the typefaces themselves, form a complex impression in the public’s mind.