FontForge used in Toyota Ad

Ana Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente just tipped me off to the IQ font

Designers Pierre And Damien strapped professional race car driver Stef van Campenhoudt in an iQ car, set him loose beneath a camera and custom software built by Zach Lieberman, and then proceeded to create a faster take on fonts.

Ana wrote, “The interesting thing is that the font was created using FontForge; you can get a glimpse of it in the video and it’s in the font’s metadata.”

Grab it from :-)

Type Designer says naked fonts are the path to quality web type

Always thoughtful David B?ezina just posted a very important comment on the I Love Typography blog post attempting to summarise the web fonts issue:

First of all, John thank you for the summary! It was much needed. I find it actually very useful that it did spark some disagreement. It helped me to revise some questions/answers and understand situation I have not been following.

  1. I think we (type designers) maintain an old illusion about how our market works. People do not buy fonts because they could not get them for free anywhere else. They buy them out of sympathy, understanding the value of our work and/or legal reasons. They could get them for free, easier, and faster (!). It is not that we would be shooting in our faces. It is more like we have been shot already. We already accepted the piracy as a burden of our business.

    If I am right in this view, we do not need any kind of DRM. The expected “new” web piracy won’t change a thing. I would very much like to see some study or educated estimate re this view. Or at least an authoritative opinion. It is crucial information for designers in order to evaluate the formats properly. Otherwise, they are just left aiming for the most security.

  2. What we, however, want is a tool to limit webfont licences exclusively for web. We want to make a profit out of this #webrisk and keep distinction between web and print fonts. Why? If I am not sure whether opening my fonts for web use is going to make me money I would rather keep the new market separated from the old working one. That is the motivation behind the web-specific format. Acceptance of non-security, but limited to web.

Personally, I think that opening to web market is surely going to make a profit. An objectively, we are not going to have strictly (that is: not-convertible) webspecific format ever. Not with current technologies where the fonts are described with curves. The only option I see is bitmap fonts &c.

.webfonts is just bundled metadata with print font (we can have them in OT table as Berlow suggest, why another format simple-to-hack when most are not going to care?), EOT Lite is a very thin wrapper as far as I understood, but at least not so trivial. It will become easy convertible (assumption), but at least something. Typekit and similar tools offer only limited security by obfuscation. So far too easy to circumvent. These techniques are not imo worth complicating life of paying customers. Even though the interface is sexy, it is still another interface.

Therefore: prepare the fonts for web (have them subsetted, add web exclusive license, permission tables, …) and go naked! Or if you are shy, have EOT Lite.

[Please note that this is still an opinion under development, was and will be revised, and it is not an opinion of TypeTogether.]

Sidenote about obfuscation methods. Some of them impair the fonts’ kerning and OT features. Not a good idea. My concern is purely of egoistic designer. With my limited abilities I tried to produce as good font as possible and I don’t want crippled copies of my font ripped off from various webservices floating around. I want constant quality of my work world-wide, nothing smaller, if possible.

The very first person who paid a compliment to my typeface on web was the one who posted it on a Russian download server (being it ripped from my MATD PDF specimen). Just thought it illustrates the situation pretty well. :-)

[one more note, what I am posting here is a result of a weekend emailing with friends and colleagues who helped me (in)form my views]

I think this is one of the most sensible and perceptive things I’ve heard from a type designer on this issue, and thought it worth bringing to much wider attention (such as on the www-font list.)

“People do not buy fonts because they could not get them for free anywhere else. They buy them out of sympathy, understanding the value of our work and/or legal reasons.” is a real truth that most people seem to try to wish away. I think it is a core principle for every kind of business going only that the public now buys things because we WANT TO send the authors money, not because we HAVE TO.

I also note on Zeldman’s blog that Richard Fink speaks the truth of EOT Lite:

an EOT Lite file is nothing more than a TTF file with a different file extension.

IE market share collapsing!

TechCrunch reports that IE’s market share collapsed this year, from 3/4 to 1/2!


Ruppert’s letter from President Carter


Letter from Carter

Cantarell: First remix

I published Cantarell on Monday, and here at Wednesday I have my first remix :-)

Cantarell's first remix

I hope Pierre will publish the outlines soon :-)

Behadad on the free software Text Rendering stack

Nicolas Mailhot noted on the fedora font list that Behdad Esfabod has published a quick summary of the Text Rendering stack state - slides and text.

Hitler Jokes

I’m always a sucker for teenage humor:

Web Fonts Arrive! Firefox 3.5 is out!

“But we need not wait for epiphanies from those whose paycheck depends on them not having any.” - Dmitri Orlov

Firefox 3.5 is out, and supports web fonts! Grab it from and tell your friends :-)

The Core of the Copyfight

Over on the PHD-DESIGN mailing list, Lars Albinsson asked, “In Sweden there is a huge debate on copyrights vs sharing on the Internet. (Swedes managed to both start the Pirate Bay, allegedly the leading peer-to-peer service, as well as introduce very strong regulatory legislation against it.) The trail of the pirate bay people this spring was one of the most internationally covered events in Sweden for years. The pirate lobby also started a political party and managed to get a seat in the European Parliament. There are mainly two sides in Sweden; roughly summed up as: Mainly record companies and some artists claim that the creative industry is dying because of internet piracy; and Other artists, many “intellectuals” and IT industry people claim the internet offers huge potential for creative businesses and people. What are the thoughts on the list about this issue (or issues)?”

As I see it, there are three sides to the “copyfight”: The public, the authors/artists, and the publishers.

Computer networks are built to share data, and the public Internet is the ultimate publishing system. Trying to prevent the public sharing data over the Internet is impossible, unless you create an intrusive police state.

Copyright conceptually starts with everything published being in the public domain. The public then grant authors a limited time monopoly over some aspects of published works in order to encourage publication. Authors do not have a natural right to control their work, this control is granted to them by the public so that the public may benefit. Note that the phrase “intellectual property” is designed to confuse this, suggesting that authors have natural rights akin to physical property rights, and lumping together laws which have almost nothing in common (patents, copyrights, trademarks, database rights, attribution rights, etc). That phrase must be avoided to have a meaningful discussion of the issues it is associated with.

The public used to trade away its natural right to copy published works to encourage the publication of more works, when it didn’t have widespread copying machines. Now that computer networks are here, the copyright bargain makes less sense for most of the public, and it seems they would rather have file sharing - even if this means that there are less works being published, which can not be assumed, although it is asserted by publishers.

Generally the political process of western democracies is dominated by corporate interests, and in this area, by publishing corporations. Therefore while the actions of the public support p2p file sharing, their governments have worked to support publishing companies. The Pirate Party is the end result of this; if the public are disenfranchised by corporate lobbyists enough about some issue, they will start political organisation to oppose the lobbyists.

So the question is, can authors/artists continue to make a living while allowing the public to share complete copies of their works, non commercially, on P2P networks? Or will the public taking back its right to share published works mean that great authors stop publishing new works and do something else?

In 2009 there is plenty of evidence that artists who are independent of publishers can make plenty of money when they respect their fan’s desire to file share; and indeed, there are examples of authors who assert they now make MORE money when the full texts of their novels are posted online.

This leaves little room for publishing companies, since artists are interfacing directly with the market over the net, and since the most famous authors and artists are contractually tied to publishers, as the publishers’ ship sinks, those artists who are going down with them have quite loud voices. However, famous artists are now actively leaving their publishers (Madonna, Radiohead, etc) and implementing the kind of mature and sophisticated “direct marketing” to monetise their works that newer artists who weren’t able to get publishing contracts have been perfecting.

Here in academia, the question is, can academics make a living while allowing the public to share complete copies of their articles, non commercially, on the web?

I suggest that they can.

A quick example: Orion Magazine just came to my attention today (having published an article - in full - about the Transition Towns movement, which I’ve recently started participating in) and the footer of each page explains: “Orion publishes six thoughtful, inspiring, and beautiful issues a year, supported entirely by our readers – we’re completely ad-free!”

Journalists and other professional authors will continue to exist, but their publishing companies and newspapers probably won’t. Many people are now professional bloggers, paid by donations directly sent by their readership and advertising.

(Many thanks to my friends Richard Stallman, who gave a speech titled “Copyright and Community in the Age of Computer Networks” at my undergraduate university in 2004 about these issues, and my dear departed friend Fravia who also practiced what he preached. Thanks also to the countless other thinkers associated with the copyfight who I do not personally know but whose works I have read :-)

Print is dying fast, I suspect collapse psychology afoot.

Print is dead: ad sales graph shows precipitous drop in revenues

TechCrunch reports that the newspaper industry has had an unprecedented drop in revenues in the first quarter of this year.

Print is dying fast. I wouldn’t be suprised if they pretend everything is okay and then one day just turn off the presses; that’s the pattern of collapse

I’m reminded of Mish: “Things that can’t happen, are about to.”

I’m also reminded of my good friend Dr. Thomas Fischbacher, who explained in a recent lecture series on “the econo-energy crisis for engineers” the similar situation in Mathematics:

“God exists, since mathematics is consistent, and the Devil exists, since we cannot prove it.” (A. Weil)

For a long time, Mathematicians tried to prove that their axioms are ‘consistent’, i.e. never will produce contradictions. At some point, they found that this is a seriously misguided idea: They managed to show that Every set of axioms that allows a proof of its own consistency then automatically also allows finding a “proof” for every possible statement, wrong or not. So, a mathematical theory that succeeds in self-justifying its correctness is worthless, for then it inevitably will be able “to demonstrate both that 2 + 2 = 4 and that 2 + 2 = 4 at the same time.”

At first, this was a surprising result. But it caused Mathematicians to make a transition to a higher state of awareness on what their discipline is about. Knowing what you never will be able to achieve, and why this is a good thing, can be humbling, but provides us with a higher degree of understanding of what it actually is we are doing. The problem with “proof theory” is that many people philosophize about it (in particular: about G ?del’s Theorem) without having a sound idea how it works. This is not what we want to get into here! So, let me emphasize: the link we are about to make with Mathematics concerning the ascension to a higher state of awareness on what we are doing is only an analogy! We do not and can not transplant G ?del’s Tree onto the soil of, say, Politics!

Many people (maybe preferentially in western societies?) search for an all-encompassing explanation of how the world really works. (Hypothesis: Maybe because not knowing makes the human mind feel deeply uncomfortable?) Some of them arrive at a picture of the world which they consider meeting that ideal and then start to prosyletize – to convert others to their belief. The problem with every “I explain it all” ideology is that it provides an explanatory framework that makes its adherents blind to disconfirming evidence. Suppose the ideology is wrong, for some reason. If you can find an explanation for and come up with an answer to every conceivable observation, how would the problems that arise in the application of a false ideology manifest themselves?

As indications of major flaws are never seen for what they are, the only conceivable consequence is collapse – being deprived of all room for manuevre by the clash with hard reality!

New Interview with Mike Ruppert

I’m happy to see this new interview with Mike Ruppert about his new book, “A Presidential Energy Policy.”

China is implementing his Presidential Point #1 - Double the national oil reserve storage, because we are post peak - and PetroChina is now the largest company in the world.

Moblin 2.0

Intel’s distribution of GNU/Linux, Moblin, is very nice:

Off the cliff we go

The Oil Drum just posted an excellent up-to-date set of graphics on oil decline rates, and even at 3.4% this does not look good at all; that mean’s we’ll have half the liquid fuel we do today in 20 years time.

Global Oil Decline

My gut feeling is that the rate of decline will accelerate, not float down as in the above graph, as it did in Cantarell:

Peak oil in Cantarell Mexico

Off the cliff we go.

UK Government Approves DRM

A while ago I signed a petition to the UK Prime Minster’s office against DRM, and a response came back today. Not good and containing plenty of nonsense, sadly.

The petition was:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to investigate the legality and fairness of DRM, specifically SecuROM. With more and more consumers being effectively handcuffed by games producers using draconian methods of DRM, we require the government to protect our rights as consumers by investigating this issue. We maintain that “limited installs” and “online activation” are both misleading, immoral and discriminatory. We also maintain that our rights of resale are being infringed by said DRM methods.

The Government’s response:

The Government wants as many people as possible to enjoy all the benefits that broadband internet can bring. New technology has changed the way people want to use and access media content, in some cases faster than products and services commercially on offer have developed. But we are also clear that the benefits of the internet must include economic benefits for our creative industries and artists.

Of course DRM is about more than just preventing people doing things, it is also about enabling content and other companies to make their material available in more sophisticated ways, offering different deals at different price ranges for example. But it is also employed as a “policeman”, and it is particularly in those circumstances that the utilisation of DRM by rights holders can be controversial.

Generally speaking the Government considers that DRM remains a legitimate tool for industry to use so long, obviously, as its utilisation stays within the general legal framework. If consumers are resistant then there may well be commercial advantage to offering DRM-free goods, as is happening in the music industry – but as a tool it is reasonable to leave it as something to be deployed as appropriate.

Guardian Editor in Chief: “Newspapers are going to die”


p>Alan Rusbridger, Guardian Editor in Chief, on the Future of Journalism: Bloggers’ comments make journalists’ articles “look quite silly.” “Newspapers are going to die” “Its a broken model, the victorian model of distribution” “blurring the distinction between journalist and reader … acknowledge they bring so much, create a community around your journalistic core” “we look to see how the [guardian] technology team are working, that’s how we’ll all be working in 5 years time”

How to force reading EULAs

The LGM2009 inGIMP talk is awesome - the second half about “arresting graphic design” was really smart: they figured out how to influence people to actually bother reading EULAs :-)

2009-03-07 John Taylor Gatto on “Open Source Education”

John Taylor Gatto made a speech on the 7th of March this year, and the video from is embedded above. It is also available to buy on DVD from and you can download the 700Mb FLV video direct (and play it using the free software VLC).

I also recently found an audio recording on of John making a short speech and then reading a chapter of his latest book, “Letter to my Granddaughter,” at the unSchooling Oppression conference, November 6, 2007.

The first chapter Weapons of Mass Instruction was published in Ode Magazine, and last year I tracked down Alexandre Innis’ Principles of Secondary Education and you can download a ZIP of all the the pages which John references.

Fun: Univers Revolved

Here is an interesting way of checking the curves in a typeface:

Univers revolved

Can anyone into Libre Fonts attend Open Translation Tools 2009?

Open Translation Tools 2009 will be held in Amsterdam, Holland from 22-24 June, 2009.

It will run alongside an Open Translation Book Sprint to produce a free book about the tools and best practices of Open Translation, with

In 2007 I and Alex Prokoudine attended the wonderful Open Translation Tools event in Croatia, and my flights and hotel were paid for by the Open Society Institute, and I believe that there will be a similar bursary for people to attend this year.

I cannot make it however, since it will be a couple of weeks before my big MA Typeface Design deadline, and I’m going to LGM.

But, the topic of libre fonts was welcomed by the organisers and proved interesting to all the other participants, and so I hope someone from the Open Font Library or Deja Vu projects can attend.

I’d like people at OTT09 to know about @font-face and what it means for minority languages, and for them to tell the libre fons community what is bugging them about the fonts they have to use (or don’t have available yet.) And also, what is bugging them about the way other tools use fonts - such as the font selection/management features. has all the details, and there is a mailing list too.

Swine Flu in North America

Mish reports that Swine Flu has gone to ‘emergency’ status, while Mike Ruppert suggests this will be the first wave of peak oil die off.

And I’m off to North America in a few weeks. Great. Although Monreal is the opposite side to the Mexican coastline, the New York connection is not good.

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.

Mike Ruppert’s Energy Policy Book: May 1st

Mike Ruppert’s new book, “A Presidential Energy Policy,” is out on May 1st.

This will be followed by a new documentary about his work from the guys who did The Yes Men, which was good: Collapse

Why Mac Computer Systems Reduce Creativity and Inhibit Quality Improvement of Novel Innovative Design

I’ve been enjoying the PHD-DESIGN mailing list run by JISC lately, and Terry Love just made a cracking post in the thread about intuition in design, which which he linked to a paper of his:

“Why Mac Computer Systems Reduce Creativity and Inhibit Quality Improvement of Novel Innovative Design”

Wonderful stuff :-)

I made a little post there in that thread too, which I’ll make into a future blog post.

American Scientist promotes @font-face!

American Scientist just published a wonderful article about the state of science publishing on the web, and I am very happy to see that the author, Brian Hayes, recognises the huge potential of @font-face and free software fonts to change the business of type:

How will it all turn out? Will Web sites of the future be chock full of MathML, or will TeX and HTML continue to prevail? Or will something else altogether come along?

I have no answers for these questions, but I want to suggest an adjustment in the way the Web works—a small change that could improve any strategy for displaying mathematical notation. It has to do with where fonts come from.

Under the present rules, a Web author can request a particular font, and the reader’s browser will honor the request if the font is available on the client machine. If not, some default font is substituted. Wouldn’t it be more helpful if the author could supply the missing font, either by embedding it directly in the page or by referring the browser to a site where the font is available? Given such a mechanism, any font-based system for presenting mathematics could ensure that all the needed symbols are ready at hand.

This is not a new idea. A proposal for “Webfonts” was included in a draft CSS standard in 1998, and the idea was even implemented in a few browsers, including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. But the proposal never caught on, and it was removed from later versions of the standard. Recently, Håkon Wium Lie of Opera Software has called for renewed consideration of the idea.

Much of the discussion centers on legal questions of interest to the owners of typeface copyrights. This doesn’t seem like an insuperable problem. It was solved in the case of PDF files, which do embed fonts. Even if proprietary typefaces were off limits, there are enough freely available fonts—including all those commonly used with TeX—to make the prospect attractive.

For a change of this kind to have any impact, all the browser makers would have to adopt it. Those are the same people who have so far resisted implementing MathML. Why would they treat the font proposal any differently? I think there is reason for optimism on this score, not because the mathematical community has much clout but because embedded fonts would be of value to other constituencies. Advertisers, in particular, would be pleased to gain greater control over Web typography.

Meanwhile, as I finish preparing this column for the press, I also face the task of helping to get my own penalty copy ready for publication on the American Scientist Web site. Those irksome equations and curious characters I’ve been writing about will somehow have to be made Web-friendly. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do that, but I suspect some bicycles are going to be outfitted with spinnakers and jibs.

Hopefully I can do this before the monetary system breaks down.

(Via Karl Berry)

Eliot Spitzer is a hero of mine

Eliot Spitzer is a hero of mine: He is a public witness to the establishment’s principle agency in creating the financial collapse.

Back in February last year, he wrote in a US national paper about how Bush caused the housing collapse:

“Predatory Lenders’ Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States From Stepping In to Help Consumers”

Next month, Bush had him busted for hiring Ashley Alexandra Dupré, a wannabe-pop-star prostitute.

Ashley Alexandra Dupré

Greg Palast wrote it up on his blog pretty well at the time.

So I’m very happy Spitzer has kept up writing dissident articles, like this one:

The Real AIG Scandal: It’s not the bonuses. It’s that AIG’s counterparties are getting paid back in full.

This latest article “speaks volumes about what is going on, and indirectly, if you follow the money, what happened to him. … What was all that bailout money for? Apparently to make sure that no one at Goldman or the other few top firms in the hand-out-line lost anything.”

The AIG bailout’s counterparties were paid because of the ‘sanctity of contract,’ but one of the conditions of the car bailout was that those employees’ contracts were ripped up, and their wages cut. “The question arises: are contracts with blue-collar workers less binding than those with highly-paid derivatives traders?”

(This soundbite from that article is tight: “[This is] the American dream in reverse. First they lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes, then their hopes.”)

Over in Latvia, you get the secret police round for talking about the reality of the economic collapse. Since the UK has some really nice anti-terrorism laws, I wonder how long it will be until the same happens here.

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