RE: [PPLetterpress] Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King
- More glyphs available, better hyphenation thanks to more and larger
dictionaries, are, perhaps, just niceties indeed. Let's say they're the
ingredients of the typographer's kitchen: ct and st ligatures for a too
spicy dish, all the f-ligatures the necessary salt for fine gastronomy.
Still, the meal has to be cooked by a talented typographer, adding the
spices at the right time and in the right quantity.
If you take optical scaling not as a typographic ingredient but as something
belonging to the cook's faculty, it is likely not to be programmed and
'forced on an unwilling or uninformed consumer', especially when he thinks
the restaurant is charging him too much for a meal he thinks he can boil
himself with those same ingredients having at home.
But then again: the TeX typesetting system didn't include niceties such as
automated glyph replacement only, correcting its typographically unaware
users, but also shipped originally with a full range of optically scaled
type sizes for its default face Computer Modern. The font was completely
computer generated by Prof. Don Knuth's Metafont, which is vector-based, the
glyphs however being exported afterwards into bitmap fonts which where the
standard in those early days of digital typography. Because this format
wasn't scalable, for each type size another bitmap-font was needed. Prof.
Knuth wisely adopted the metal practice to have these different versions
also optically scaled, a quality from which his modern typeface (thin
serifs, high contrast) greatly benefited. These optically scaled fonts are
still automatically implemented in most of the TeX distributions, without
its users having to be aware of it.
But there is more. TeX users are not expected to do the page layout of their
documents themselves. They just select the proper format (article, book &c.)
and the program will do the layout for them (line spacing, marginal width,
page size and so forth). Of course, the TeX default 'document classes' don't
meet high typographical standards, but more prolific users are allowed to
program/design their own document styles. Some publishers are doing this
indeed, creating their specific house style and offering their authors a
practical tool to automate the typesetting process. In any case, the
documents published by TeX users (mainly mathematicians, physicist and
alike) significantly excel those of Word users.
I don't claim that the computer is able of aesthetic judgement. The
programmer however might be. Or he can faithfully adopt the advices of a
skilled typographic designer (as Knuth had himself advised by Hermann Zapf).
And the computer program will thereafter do exactly as it is told, much more
meticulously than can be expected from human inaccuracy.
In a way, I fancy, it is like canned food: most of it is tasteless, but if
the soup kitchen is governed by a capable cook, those instant meals are
still better than what most people are able to fabricate.
P.S. The article by Haralambous, to which I referred in my previous post,
offers a stunning typographical showcase of what 'digital monotype' (i.e.
automated typesetting by a TeX distribution) is capable of, brightly
elucidating the programming strategies.
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