Web fonts starts bubbling merrily: “Fuck the foundries”

Mark Pilgrim is an important software freedom advocate, famous for his blog posts about switching from Mac OS X to GNU/Linux (nb Gruber’s reply) and from MovableType to WordPress. So I’m happy to see him championing web fonts, since this little feature of CSS3 that is going to ship in all major browsers this year hasn’t got enough press I think.

Although his manner is a little obnoxious:


That post goes with aListApart interview with David Berlow, who has been out in the wilderness talking about “optically scaled” web fonts (and web font DRM…) for years, and Tal Leming’s reply to Mark (Tal is one of the Robofab geniuses). His comment about the secrecy in the W3C Fonts group is something I strongly agree is problematic.

I made tonnes of notes for this overall topic during the research of my dissertation, but didn’t include a section in the final text. I’ll be tidying it up and adding this topic as the 4th final chapter, and publishing it as a book after I graduate.

I also posted some stuff about all this last year on the Open Font Library wiki - such as the EOT page section “What might happen in the future?” - but all that needs updating.

The new Open Font Library will go live very soon, I hope, and add some positive action to the web fonts discourse. There’s a discussion on the OFLB list about this.

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The Web fonts starts bubbling merrily: “Fuck the foundries” by David Crossland, except the quotations and unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


3 Responses to “Web fonts starts bubbling merrily: “Fuck the foundries””

  1. Chris Lilley on July 6th, 2009 13:38

    “His comment about the secrecy in the W3C Fonts group is something I strongly agree is problematic.”

    Really? He links to the proposed font wg charter which says, clearly, a few lines down

    Confidentiality Public

    so your “secrecy” comment and his “behind closed doors” comment seem to be based on some other information — what, exactly?

  2. David Crossland on July 15th, 2009 14:38

    Tal’s comment in full: “there doesn’t seem to have been much input from people who actually make the fonts that these folks are discussing. I looked into joining the W3C so that I could contribute to the group, but it would cost $7900 per year for three years ($23,700 total plus the expenses of traveling to meetings). Based on my reading of the charter, it looks like the discussions will take place behind closed doors. This is quite depressing.” I believe the ‘behind closed doors’ comment was based on the idea you’d have to pony up the cash to be a W3C member. Since that post in April, we met at the LGM, and that week you restarted open discussion on the www-font mailing list. So I think my secrecy comment was of its time, and has been satisfactorily resolved.

  3. Chris Lilley on July 15th, 2009 21:21

    Dave, yes I agree the comment represented a reasonable concern at the time, and since then events have moved on and a more open discussion is taking place.

    More remains to be done in terms of consultation, but its a good start and the right people are starting to have a dialogue now.

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