LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for TYPO-L Archives


TYPO-L Archives

TYPO-L Archives


TYPO-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Monospaced Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

TYPO-L Home

TYPO-L Home

TYPO-L  September 2001

TYPO-L September 2001

Subject:

Re: Relativism as Escapism

From:

Hrant H Papazian <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 7 Sep 2001 10:32:51 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (130 lines)

From: Gunnar Swanson
> Although the "we read best what we read most"
> mantra is nonsense if taken to literal extreme,

I actually don't think it's "nonsense" even
at literal extremes - it does contain truth.

The problem with it is that it's misleading,
at *any* level. It tries to simplify reality
into something untrue. Maybe everything is
[necessarily] a simplification, but to me
this one crosses the line in a major way,
and almost immediately.

Considering it more carefully, I think that changing
a single word would actually makes it work really well:
replace "best" with "better". And maybe change "most"
to "more", but that's it. :-/

Unfortunately, the original is much
better at something else (see below)...

> it is no more nonsense than the
> previously-prevailing wisdom.

Which was what? If it was "some fonts are more readable
than others (even if we're not sure why)" then the old
stuff made 100% more sense than this hogwash.

Now, I admit, there was (and is) a lot of bull in the
"old" understanding as well (and maybe this relativist
reaction is partly a backlash, as you say). For example,
the view that serifs "guide" the eyes along a flow, even
100 years after Javal... Bejeezus.

> "People are willing to try to read stuff in some proportion to
> how familiar it seems and familiar stupidity is less distracting
> than unfamiliar stupidity" just isn't a catchy manifesto soundbite.

You've put your finger right on it. And maybe any
"mantra" that describes anything of value (anything
necessarily complex) in life cannot be so absolute.
It has to be loose, and hope that the "absorber" of
the mantra can read beyond the words.

But the question is, are we trying to promote ideas, or are
we trying to sell dishwashers? Maybe E P Earls should turn
it into a catchy jingle.

> the sort of reading you talk about in your article
> in -Graphic Design & Reading- doesn't seem to apply
> to the short snippets and interviews editorial format
> of that era of Emigre.

Certainly, it applies less. And I've realized over time that
there are two forms of reading. There's letter-wise reading, and
there's bouma reading (word, or actually word-segment), and they
combine to varying degrees in any given reading "event".

I think immersion has two requisites: "low-level" readability
(a factor of the type/typography/medium/etc.), and familiarity.
The "relativists" ignore the former, and maybe misunderstand
the dynamics of the latter:

Even though it's one of the things I'm less confident about,
I think that familiarity is established much quicker than many
people seem to think (and that's why it's so difficult to measure
readability), at least on the level of the individual (groups are
inherently more resistant to adaptation - like the way drops in
speed on freeways are due to the accumulation of individual
speed drops). So I think immersive reading possibly comes into
play very quickly - maybe only a few words into the text, but
only assuming good "inherent" readability - and that's my point.

For example, even single words on highway signs are often
read immersively (but I'm not very sure why... man, this
is a one complex beast).

> I suspect that the appeal of over-stated relativism is partially a
> reaction to the many statements of personal prejudice or arbitrary
> group preference that are put forth by "authorities" as Truth.

But who/where are these authorities? How can we react
against them when people consciously (?) ignore them?

X-Sybari-Space: 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
From: Mark Simonson
> I doubt that many would argue that legibility is unimportant

True, but many people argue that legibility/readability
is "all in your head", ignoring the shape of the retina,
the [admittedly partial] empirical evidence, etc.

> it's not the only important thing

Agreed.

> there are other factors than typeface
> choice that affect legibility.

Totally.

> As long as designers use common sense and follow
> reasonable guidelines when setting type, most people
> will have no difficulty reading the type they set, even
> if they have chosen a typeface that is sub-optimal.

Well, I'm with you on "common sense",
but "reasonable guidelines" is tricky.

More significantly: What if a designer wants to elevate
his work from "readable enough" to "highly readable"?
Especially in long material, that "sub-optimal" can
amount to a real impediment.

> if they are popular it follows that they must be
> legible enough for the uses to which they are put.

Yes, they are *legible* enough to bypass casual
layman complaint. But the reader cannot consiously
understand the [often] more important *readability*,
because this relies on a subconscious mechanism.

> Absolutism is not the only alternative
> to relativism. There is also pragmatism.

My man!

hhp

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
May 2018
April 2018
February 2018
December 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
March 2017
February 2017
August 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
June 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995
October 1995
September 1995
August 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995
March 1995
February 1995
January 1995
December 1994
November 1994
October 1994
September 1994
August 1994
July 1994
February 1994
January 1994
November 1993
October 1993
September 1993
August 1993
April 1993
March 1993
February 1993

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager