Perfect Typography

matha_standun's picture

I was talking about athletics with a friend recently and how one day there would have to be an unbeatable world record - no furter improvement possible.

In terms of readability in typography, is a similar limit conceivable? What would happen if we reached that limit? Would we even know?


Frank Jonen's picture

So you haven't heard about the Font Sprint yet?

Personally I'd like to see a Punchcutting Race next time, resulting in an Open Type font of course :-)


hrant's picture

How could there be an "unbeatable" record in athletics? For one thing, mutation still happens.

Readability: It's a dynamic thing (even if you took some "average" of all readers), and familiarity does play a role. In my Alphabet Reform work I arrived at the conclusion that the degree to which an alphabet (nevermind a font, which is an instance of an alphabet) is optimal depends on the current state of the reader. What I mean for example is that an "e" with a flat bottom might improve readability optimally at this time (by pushing the boundary just the right amount), but once people are totally comfortable with that structure the next step in optimization might be to give the "e" a descender.

This is hard to explain.


hawk's picture

" designer can foresee the inner logic of all possible texts and languages, nor all the other uses to which type is rightly put.

"...Actually, working with type is an earthly task......never-ending landscape that is otherwise too far away to see."

robert bringhurst, the elements of typographic style, p.334

kennmunk's picture

Hrant is right, legibility now isn't the same as it was in 1746, whereas minutes and seconds are.
(I don't beleive the unbeatable athletics record either, evolution will sort it out.)

gerald_giampa's picture

Building products for the semi illiterate with low attention spans seems a little shallow, perhaps!

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

matha_standun's picture

don't beleive the unbeatable athletics record either...

Drugs and implants maybe, or changing the rules all the time like in football.
I don't think evolution is too worried about 100m sprints, though.


kennmunk's picture

But wouldn't it be cool if it was? sitting at home, trying to figure out how to make people run faster.

There's always genetic engineering, it's going to be fun/scary to watch the spandex-clad sports-mutants

hrant's picture

There was an article/story in Omni magazine a long time ago about "custom" humans for athletics. Like the Soviet boxer had his brain in his butt.


kakaze's picture

I miss Omni :sigh: Stupid morons made the jump to the internet and immediately killed the magazine, thus killing themselves in the process.

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