Saturday, 3 November 2012

Typo 2012 Matthew Butterick

'What typo has to say about Matthew:

“Take risks and challenge ideas, go the opposite direction, raise standards, make trouble, invest your humanity. Because that’s what design wants from you, that’s the highest form of design and we need it now more than ever.” Being pretty is not enough. Design has arrived in the middle of our society an it has to serve humanitarian purposes.. Matthew Butterick is a typographer, lawyer, and writer in Los Angeles. And he has been making demands on design and designers since his first appearance at the Fuse 95 conference. After graduating from Harvard, he worked as type designer for David Berlow and Matthew Carter. He started a web-design studio, Atomic Vision, that was acquired by open-source developer Red Hat. Butterick then got a law degree from UCLA. He is the author of »Typography for Lawyers«. His most recent fonts are FB Alix and Equity.

What I thought

'The presence and charisma of a Hollywood actor with a brain and a passion for type'

The talk

Rebuilding the Typographic Society
At its best, design is a social act. That’s why at TYPO Berlin, Matthew proposed that “solving problems is the lowest form of design” and that investing our humanity is the highest. At TYPO London, Matthew will continue with this theme, exploring how the printed word remains our most socially vital invention because it illuminates the possibilities of being human. He will also explain why typographers should keep hold of this golden thread, even as today’s technology invites us to let go.

Consequential technology:
Not space as if we had not gone into Space not much would have changed on earth
Runner up is sanitation
The written word really start to transmit ideas further beyond space and time.  Knowledge could be re-used

Printing marked the beginning of The Typographic Society

Huge emphasis in our culture is on literacy - the skill that is the gateway to everything else.
Our culture wants us to write it down
So obvious We often overlook how consequential it has been
working with the written word is a Noble and significant tradition

Bottom of pile Social Media is a misnomer;  A meaningful social structure encourages us to to shape our behaviour to benefit others and benefit
A set of monologues which occasionally intersect no consequences. fun.

Social media is insidious because try to say they are not advertising as they want you to invest yourself. Harvest personal data and sell to advertisers. secondly expressively flat....promotes lazy consensus....we should seek out thoughtful criticism of our ideas.  Be mindful of their limitations and mindful built on incentives that don't actually produce meaningful social values.
Going to be fruit flies on the banana tree of civilisation.

What makes typography valuable?

Responsible for all the good things which have happened to him.

Not just about making it pretty/look good.  Lowest form of typography the tip of the iceberg

William Zinser On writing well... 'writing should be an expression of our humanity. '

The best writing embodies the best human values -  clarity, simplicity, personality & warmth

Unlearn bad habits - should be able to express ourselves with clarity and simplicity.  We still layer and code our language as we fear we will be exposed, no-one will like us, safety of indirect nonsense.

Fearful designer - adorn with complexity, clip art, decoration
Confident designer - take mundane objects and fill with simplicity and personality

Typography and writing grow out of a common root both target core human values.  Writing is visual it catches the eye before it has the chance to catch the brain.

The iceberg analogy below the waterline we are making it more meaningful.

Typography adds meaning

Stemple foundry catalogue from 1920's the utter command of the meaning on every page. Exuberance and utter precision.  Took from this that Stemple wasn't just selling type; selling possibilities and a standard of craft and imagination to aspire to.
Writing is the primary way we store ideas and we communicate possibilities to others and plant new ideas

David Stempel founded the type foundry in Frankfurt am Main in 1895. From 1900 through 1983, the foundry produced matrices for Linotype typesetting machines. In 1985, Linotype acquired the company, and the founding operations were moved to Darmstadt, were today they form part of the Hessian State Museum (Hessisches Landesmuseum).

A golden thread of a 1000 years of the typographic society ongoing human project and sharing cycle produces a virtuous circles of creativity and progress . typography and the text service of this broader social project

Rebuilding the typographic Society
Designers struggle between possibilities and inertia.  Everyone who is researching is exploring  Not a service industries that solve problem.  Solving problems is the lowest form of design investing you humanity is the highest.

Technology is the Godzilla which displaces us it can constrict the space we have for expressing our humanity.  We can forget what we are capable of.

The Godzilla of the 80's - the Macintosh destroyed a lot of publishing and printing but also presented opportunities and sold possibilities

The Godzilla of the 90's - In a rut .  Newspapers are supposed to be the best design publications in the world with design teams, standards and budgets.  Awful in exactly the same way layout New York times, The Guardian, The Zeit.

Causes?  Lack of ambition, follow the heard,  faulty technology - web standards.  They should benefit with reliability and consistency.  Recommendations no incentives to adopt.  No reference point. W3C runs its - costs and overheads.  Do we stay anchored to the lowest common denominator?

2000's Godzilla's digital books - design decisions left to two billionaires - Amazon (Kindle) and i-Book on i-pad.  

The problem is i-books only used a tiny sliver of the i-Pad technology.
We shouldn't put up with this as books are the core artifact of the Typographic Society a battle for standards a

How we can help rebuild the Typographic society

4. Sell the possibilities.  don't be at the service of making things pretty
3. Recruit typographers/  Other fonts available than what rest on your Mac.  Spread the words
2. Practise what you preach.  Don't undermine your work with mixed signals.  Font shop and type kit sell web fonts but don't use them on their websites.
1. Create difficult projects and do them well. Don't repeat yourself, raise expectations. Challenge yourself; go for the depth.  Use every project as the chance to learn at least one new thing. 

We need it .  The Godzilla moments are a Call to action for design thinkers. Don't lose to technology, we lose forever.  

Typography has always offered the possibility of a better future and if we don't explore that possibility and the future ends up more limited than the past; we will have no one to blame but ourselves.


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