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Re: [PPLetterpress] Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King

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  • Jason Dewinetz
    While I agree with Ludwig that accidentally better typesetting due to software defaults is a kind of irritant reduction measure, I have to side with Gerald
    Message 1 of 51 , Dec 1, 2005
      While I agree with Ludwig that "accidentally better" typesetting due to
      software defaults is a kind of irritant reduction measure, I have to side
      with Gerald that this only encourages/enables general-user ignorance. But
      I'm a naive idealist, of course, thinking general users will care about this
      sort of thing one way or the other. Even the idea that Times New Roman is an
      improvement over Courier is a given, but a painful, horrible,
      migraine-inducing challenge of gratitude.

      As for the multiple size issue (ie: Multiple Master or Optical sizes), this,
      it seems to me, really is asking too much of the general user. A good
      OpenType font with a decent glyph palette and basic substitutions built in
      is a nice gesture to the type-inclined, but more advanced features, I think,
      should absolutely be left to the user. That glyphs and features are
      available is important, but defaulting them into common usage seems along
      the lines of adding emoticons to Hotmail. "Don't know how to make an
      irritating smiley face to add to your message? No problem, we'll add them
      for you!!" This is why I didn't include reference to ligatures in my prior
      posts. Ligs like "ct" and "st" are pure ornamentation, distracting at best.
      But having them for rare occasions is important. I'm more interested in what
      has been missing for so long: true fractions (other than half, quarter,
      eighth), "delicacies" like tablular oldstyle numbers, a full range of
      superscripts and inferiors, etc.

      And then there's the "what was worst" debate, what technology did the most
      damage? What's interesting to me is that it all seems to have gone to hell,
      as Gerald said, in the late 19th century, when things were still cold metal,
      as they'd been for a few hundred years. Maybe because the technology had
      stalled? "Instead of new technology, let's just make those thin strokes
      thinner?" Ach. I think Ludwig is onto something with the comment about
      digital possibly inspiring the next Jenson, etc. It was new then, yes?
      Jenson hiding away in Germany, then wanting to go back to France but no
      France to pay his ticket, so off to Italy to trudge under de Spira's patent
      for a few years, exploring this new technology, carving away, punching away,
      then bursting out with the result of all that technical trial and error?
      There's nothing new under the sun, of course, but some kid waiting to take
      digital typography and make it sing? Who knows.

      All I'm saying is that these "advances" can be seen to be a blessing or a
      curse. Damn the man for creating a new font format! Or, Here's an
      opportunity. If it's simply a matter of perspective, of options (blessing or
      curse), seeing the blessing seems to have more to offer.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Gerald Lange
      To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 7:23 PM
      Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King


      I think the claim could be made that machine composition actually did
      improve typography (proving both you and Jason right; improved tools,
      improved typography). Though the fitting of matrices of machine
      composition were in no way the match for those from a quality foundry,
      I'd think that Monotype, Linotype, Ludlow were more the firms that
      caught on to the typographic revival and promoted fine typography. The
      typography of the late nineteenth century, most of it hand set, was
      about as bad as it could get. And the well established metal type
      foundries were quite slow to catch on.

      On the other hand, with notable exception, digital versions of most of
      the libraries, from Monotype and Linotype specifically, were based on
      the photofilm versions, not the metal. Photofilm suppliers quickly
      realized that the idea of selling several size-optimized versions of a
      face would not fly in a market where the consumer could easily adjust
      type size with a camera. So digital type renditions of these,
      especially if they are not optically sized, aren't necessarily better
      than the metal versions. When you buy a digital font, you are
      essentially getting only the small-text size. Using this at larger
      sizes only serves to bloat the face.

      Building intelligent rendering software to force better typography can
      only go so far. So while the niceties of typography might be more and
      more available, more glyphs, better hyphenation, better spacing, etc.,
      especially if included as part of the package, if the consumer cannot
      understand the need to actually buy more than one size version of a
      face, we really are hardly further down the road than when machine
      comp ruled supreme. So probably best not to across the board diss
      those fine press printer Luddites quite yet. The measure is still
      ultimately the responsibility of the typographer. And this can't be
      forced on an unwilling or uninformed consumer.


      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Ludwig M. Solzen"
      <ppletterpress@l...> wrote:
      > Gerald and Jason
      > > I think it is essentially true that OT was developed for the Asian
      > > market.
      > Take the case of ligatures. Of course the OT support of automated glyph
      > replacement commercially zealed for the Asian markets, where the use of
      > ligatures (and their easy implementation) are orthographically
      > (Arabic, Hindi, Tibetan &c). This shouldn't mean of course that fine
      > typographers weren't to gratefully embrace the OT features facilitating
      > their work in - amongst a lot of other things - the replacement of
      glyphs by
      > the proper ligatures, also in Western languages, where their use
      might be
      > considered purely aesthetical (although I wouldn't agree on that
      > completely). Also the technical possibilities of 16 bit data files,
      > resulting in much larger glyph palettes, obviously had type designers
      > devising glyphs they wouldn't have even considered before, or only
      > such as long-s and fb, fh, fj, fk, ft ligatures, for which their was no
      > place in the regular expert sets. Perhaps these new possibilities
      gave font
      > developers too much room for design extravagancies. But then again, I'd
      > rather have too much technical means than too little - I don't use these
      > imho profligate ct en st ligatures.
      > > but I would not agree that these improvements have likewise
      > > improved my or anyone else's typography
      > Generally speaking, typographical improvement in practical daily use
      > be noticed thanks to improvements on behalf of the typographical
      > Just compare photographically set newspapers from the late 1970s
      with most
      > of today's. And although I heavily dislike the plump traits of Times New
      > Roman, it sure is a better default system typeface than Courier was,
      so that
      > I am at least slightly less vexed when receiving a letter of some
      > typographically insensitive secretary.
      > > Having typographic niceties does not mean that most folks
      > > will use them, or even know how to use them properly.
      > It all depends from the default settings of the system. To take up
      the case
      > of ligatures again, which is my typographic hobby-horse. I really
      hate it
      > when people don't use them, although in most fonts (PS1) at least fi
      and fl
      > are available for a long time and since the introduction of Windows
      XP are
      > also accessible by non-Mac users. One day I got the master thesis of a
      > friend. His typographical knowledge didn't exceed the average, but as a
      > mathematician he used the LaTeX typesetting system. Ligatures were
      all over
      > the text and with a meticulousness rarely met in Quark or Pagemaker
      > documents. When I asked my friend about them, he hadn't even noticed
      > they were there, in fact, he didn't know what they were! It seemed that
      > their implementation was a default setting of the software. Meanwhile, I
      > contentedly noticed that this became true for InDesign as well:
      thanks to
      > these technical defaults we can look forward to a brighter typographic
      > future, without jobbing designers and common pc users having to be even
      > aware of what the machine is doing for them.
      > > Building the capability into the system is great, but its a gift to
      > > typographers, a panache.
      > No doubt. Even with all these great techneutic features we cannot
      expect a
      > 'spontaneous generation' of fine typography under the bluntest of hands.
      > This has been true for all the arts, where it comes to aesthetic
      genius, or
      > plain good taste. But technological innovation may help to bring
      better into
      > expression artistic brilliance; just think of what the invention of oil
      > painting meant for European art. Of course there were more poorly
      > painters then there have been Raphaels, but at least we have that one,
      > unsurpassed Raphael. Likewise, in the digital age, there will be a vast
      > majority of poor typography still, but I am happily awaiting the new
      > Jensons, Bodonis and Mardersteigs, fully exploiting the new
      technologies in
      > realising what couldn't be achieved by the physical restrictions of
      > type.
      > > It really isn't until the 20th century that such concerns become fully
      > > developed and stabilized.
      > Quite so. Hanging punctuation and kerning can't be traced in the Aldine
      > publications, afaik, even less in the work of Plantin. Gutenberg's
      > Bible, however, has it - and more. In general, I'd say typography
      has gained
      > a lot thanks to technological progress, and although myself an
      enthusiast of
      > incunabulian beauty and all the great achievements by the geniuses
      of our
      > typographic history, the hand printed sheets of the earlier days are
      > rather poor, when compared with the clean products of the motorised
      > press.
      > > the vast majority of typesetting and typography gave way to
      > > DTP and a complete disregard for setting correct type because so much
      > > of correct setting was simply not possible with the tools at hand.
      > Frankly, I guess hot metal typesetting is to be blamed a lot more. The
      > Linotype, Intertype and, above all, the Monotype machines have
      produced much
      > better books than photocomposition and early digital. But, in
      essence, the
      > disregard for correct typography principally came across for the
      first time
      > with hot metal; photocomp and (early) DTP are but its even more
      > offspring. Think of the typically Linotype truncated overhanging glyphs
      > (notoriously the italic f), the bad kerning on Monotype by lack of
      > logotypes and so on. And don't even ask about marginal kerning. In
      regard to
      > the quiet handwork at the stone, these boisterously products of
      > commercialism are responsible of the readers' getting used to bad
      > and mutilated type characters. This is why I am suspicious about those
      > 'Luddite' fine press printers claiming typographical excellence with
      > Mono's, at the same time haughtily denouncing digital letterpress.
      In a way
      > digital typography is steadily restoring and emulating the handwork
      of those
      > glorious days before Mergenthaler's however technically genial
      > Hot metal is dead: Long live the digital metal!
      > (Perhaps a bit too charging, but nevertheless)
      > yours kindly,
      > Ludwig


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    • Gerald Lange
      Per I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of Schöffer s entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because somewhere was
      Message 51 of 51 , Apr 1, 2006

        I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of
        Schöffer's entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because
        somewhere was a reference to his being in Mainz prior to the fall of
        Constantinople (1493), which was of considerable concern to the
        European community.

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