Discussion at the Reading Experience.
Month: June 2007 Page 1 of 2
Every now and then I post a roundup of what’s been going on at my companion sites. Here’s the latest.
- Four Keys to Haggling
- Maya Symbology: Bat
- Wedding Hotels in the Maya Riviera
- Mayan Theater, Los Angeles
- Song clips from the “golden age” of Mexican popular music
- Pilgrimage Sites in the Haight
- Bod Dylan’s 1965 Press Conference in San Francisco
- San Francisco Bay Area Progressive Directory
- Is SF gayer than NYC?
- Top 10 Affordable Restaurants in San Francisco
- How Expensive is San Francisco?
- Time Lapse Photos of San Francisco Bay
TimesOnline reports that liars have trouble telling their stories in reverse order. It’s a good way to trip up falsehoods. Let’s try it out …
“We’re fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, and, let’s see, we went in, the United Nations … no that was, um, there were weapons of mass destruction, no wait, that was, let’s see, er ..”
InDesign CS3 is being touted for its XML capabilities. It’s an interesting concept, especially, I suppose, for publishing repetitive documents like newsletters and journals, since the container and the content could be kept separate. And I guess you could have print and electronic (web) documents that looked nearly the same, without the limitations of pdf.
Does anyone (hello, India, Ink.) have any experience with this?
Funny the buzz about Helvetica lately. Over at Veer they had a “rant or rave” about Helvetica contest. Below are the winning entries. What does it say that the rant entry is so much better than the rave entry?
Best “I Love Helvetica” entry: Workhorse by Negar Nasoohi
My trusty little workhorse of a font,
Too often your quiet elegance goes unnoticed.
Past your no-nonsense exterior lies a supple core of gentle curves that complement your strict angles and crisp edges. Who will gape in admiration at this perfectly balanced marvel of human creation? Not the hurried grocer who slaps you on his window to announce an okra sale. Not the jolly fifth grade math teacher who uses your numerals to test young minds. Definitely not the irate smoker who glares at the sign forbidding her to light and inhale. No, few see the delicate vibrance of your versatile and timeless beauty. But for those of us that do, you are priceless.
Best “I Hate Helvetica” entry: Context by Derek Walker
The first marks, cut in clay, linear clues
Surviving, phoenix-like, through the fire,
Were just a starting point — papyrus bruised
Until a sheet was fixed, the calfskin quires
Stretched on a rack, their texture scraped away
With metal knives, after the skin was flayed.
And finally came paper, pulped and pressed;
These arts entwining trauma with finesse.
And quills and nibs, they scratched the surface;
Movable press would stamp its forms in place,
Hot slugs of metal cast for just that purpose.
It took so much abuse to leave a trace.
With this violence making way for bit and byte,
Helvetica steps in to wound our sight.
These ladies were having a great time at the Getty Center. They thought it was a hoot that I wanted to take their picture.
More L.A. photos: At Buried Mirror I’ve posted a couple of pictures of the wonderfully kitsch facade of the Mayan Theater.
Light posting while I’m on the road, but just now I have an internet connection and a few moments to use it. Here’s a photo from a bright sunlit day at the Huntington Gardens.
The latest issue of Artlink (a contemporary art quarterly published in
Inside Out, a show of contemporary art from China that in San Francisco was jointly hosted by SF MOMA and the Asian Art Museum in 1999 (curated by Gao Minglu of Harvard in association with Colin Mackenzie of the Asia Society and Elise Haas of SF MOMA) included several excellent examples, such as Xu Bing’s remarkable Book from the Sky, a work composed of thousands of made-up characters, and Wenda Gu’s United Nations Series: Temple of Heaven (China Monument), a work made up of human hair.
Xu Bing, A Book from the Sky, 1987-91. Woodblock print, wood, leather, ivory, four banners: 103 x 6 x 8.5cm (each, folded): 19 boxes: 49.2 x 33.5 x 9.8cm (each, containing four books). Queensland Art Gallery: The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art, purchased 1994 with funds from the International Exhibitions Program and with the assistance of The Myer Foundation and Michael Simcha Baevski through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation.
Wenda Gu, United Nations Series: Temple of Heaven (China Monument), 1998. Installation with screens of human hair. Approx. 24 x 30 x 27 ft. (732 x 914 x 823 cm). Collection of the artist.
After the break: brief summaries of the Artlink text/art-icles (and a quotation from each).
Kevin Larson (Microsoft) and Rosalind Picard (MIT) have published a paper called “The Aesthetics of Reading” (pdf link) that attempts to determine whether typographic refinements result in improved reading. In the authors’ words:
In this paper we demonstrate a new methodology that can be used to measure aesthetic differences by examining the cognitive effects produced by elevated mood. Specifically in this paper we examine the benefits of good typography and find that good typography induces a good mood. When participants were asked to read text with either good or poor typography in two studies, the participants who received the good typography performed better on relative subjective duration and on certain cognitive tasks.
Preliminary results with standard measurements included the following:
- Readers preferred good layout (duh), but this resulted in no measurable performance improvements. (The authors’ example of “good layout” would have looked better with a left-aligned head.)
- OpenType refinements such as kerning, small caps, old style numerals, and sub/superscript features produced no reading speed, comprehension, or preference differences. (Clearly the sample did not include graphic designers.)
- Even rather gross tracking and kerning improvements went unnoticed by readers. (When the differences were pointed out, however, the better set text was preferred.)
Theorizing that designers and typographers must know something, the authors attempted to find new ways of measuring the effects of typography and design. They came up with two measurements: time perception or “relative subjective duration” (RSD — this assumes that a more pleasurable experience will have less of a tendency to seem to drag on) and positive mood (based on studies that have shown that positive mood improves cognitive performance).
Using these measurements, good typography was found to produce statistically significant benefits. Hurray! The authors again:
We have … demonstrated that high quality typography appears to induce a positive mood, similar to earlier mood inducers such as a small gift or watching a humorous video. This is an exciting finding because there are important differences between good and poor typography that appear to have little effect on common performance measures such as reading speed and comprehension. To help move the field of typography forward we need methods that can successfully measure aesthetic differences.
Update: Kevlar at typophile.com reports “We describe further progress on this line of research in issue 22 of Typo magazine.”