Friday, January 04, 2013

I Shot the Serif, and They Say It Is a Capital Offense

Seth Stevenson:

When did we all become amateur typography experts? Perhaps we should credit Steve Jobs, a calligraphy buff who built a bunch of cool typeface options into early Macs. By the time I got to college, any sophomore worth her salt had firm feelings about whether Palatino or Garamond looked better on her Classic II. And any professor worth her salt knew that a term paper printed in 12-point Courier was a desperate attempt to stretch eight thin pages to the required 10.

While it's certainly plausible to suggest that insufferable typography snobs are direct descendants of some of the earliest practitioners of insufferable Internet snobbery, the Ur-snobs, if you will, the more prosaic forces of materialist determinism should probably take precedence over romantic mythologies of noble lineage. Less Steve Jobs, more Need Jobs, in other words. What else are you going to do while you wait for that worthless degree in graphic design to reap financial rewards? Might as well share all that useless information with everyone online and devote your energy to desperate attempts to invest the vagaries of fashion and taste with deep significance. Lowercase letters with slightly flaring terminals? Glyph widths, stroke weights, ascender heights? Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, at least you have your health!