Typonomics (surviving Google Web Fonts's rise)

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

Hi,

As a typographic writer and young foundry leader (and titling type designer), I wanted to share some thoughts about libre/free fonts and the value of type design.

The rise of Google Web Fonts (GWF) leads indeed to think further the checks and balances between the freedom of tools and value of type design.

I propose also a new licensing scheme and some pieces of advice about web fonts and web fonts service.

http://www.fadebiaye.com/read/blabla/typonomics.html

Any comment welcome...

aluminum's picture

Freeware, shareware and open source are not new concepts only brought to light by Google Web Fonts.

Té Rowan's picture

Wonder if this will fare any better than OSI's seven-layer network model...

As for the artwork... the Ah-murricans just call it IP (intellectual Property) now.

Richard Fink's picture

Frank,

I liked your article as an intellectual exercise. Beyond that, good luck!
Invite David Berlow out for a beer at the next typo-fest and ask him about EPAR.

Regards,

Rich

Richard Fink
Blog: Readable Web
Type Director: Kernest/Konstellations

blank's picture

The rise of Google Web Fonts (GWF) leads indeed to think further the checks and balances between the freedom of tools and value of type design.

Why should Google Web Fonts have any impact on the way commercial type is licensed? Google Web Fonts is just another free fonts site riding a wave of publicity generated by hyping web fonts and open-source. Most of the collection is badly autotraced handwriting fonts or single weight text font revivals that nobody was clamoring for anyway. Eventually it will be like DaFont.com and every other free font web site—popular with first year design students, and irrelevant to most professionals.

hrant's picture

That's what they said about MyFonts the first few years.

hhp

aluminum's picture

I wouldn't say that. Well, I agree with Dafont, but plenty of us 'pros' use Google Web Fonts. Granted, it's not necessarily because of stellar type selection but rather because it's Google, which is a reliable, known entity when it comes to hosting code for us.

Of course, with the right clients, we'll all be using more of the commercially licensed faces now as well. It's just that Google and the like got a much larger head start so have made some ground there.

As for free fonts only being popular with first year design students, I think that was true a decade or so ago, when there really was a rather large gap between what was available as free licenses and what was commercial. But that gap, in many ways, has shrunk. There's a lot of really excellent faces out there being licensed in free formats. I wouldn't say that's necessarily REPLACING commercially licensed faces, but rather adding to the mix.

Si_Daniels's picture

James, I agree that in the graphic design world the set has had, and will have, little impact, but for in the software development space (apps and games) and web font space there's undoubtedly a measurable economic impact for vendors who operate in that area. Quality aside, at least from the legal angle, with Google standing behind them, these are a safer bet than most dafont free fonts.

PS. Anyone know how close Google is to meeting their goal of 1000 fonts by 2012? They claim 393 families, but how many fonts?

Khaled Hosny's picture


googlewebfonts$ find -maxdepth 2 -iname '*.ttf' | wc -l
754

(not all are published, I think)

Si_Daniels's picture

They still have two days! Go Google Go!

hrant's picture

Actually "by 2012" could mean another year from now.
Maybe that ambiguity was a feature.

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

It is now, now that it's been documented.

Richard Fink's picture

"Most of the collection is badly autotraced handwriting fonts or single weight text font revivals that nobody was clamoring for anyway."

Yeah, sure. Poor quality quality quality quality quality.....

"Even more debilitating is the belief in "quality." "Quality" in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not "quality" because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. That is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes "quality."

And a happy and prosperous New Year to all.

hrant's picture

I certainly agree that quality doesn't come from the effort put down by
the maker, and certainly not directly from how much the thing costs!
However there's always a layer of quality beyond what the consumer's
consciousness can appreciate - and critically some consumers know this.
For example in a text face there's the good spacing that leads to ease of
reading - something virtually no consumer can really gauge on his own.
So how do consumers decide to spend more money on something than
makes sense based on the hard facts they know? Simply something at the
core of human behavior: faith. And I don't mean a gullible, blind faith,
I mean a faith built up with experience in precedent, coupled to a belief
that people -especially those who put their hearts into making something-
are essentially good, and they can't remain good at what they do without
being rewarded.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes "quality."

But what about the reader?

And that is only one area of readership beyond the purchaser.

Types exist in many spheres, all of which value them in one way or another.

The MoMA-acquired types for instance.

abattis's picture

They still have two days! Go Google Go!

@sii: Well, I tried my best ;) I guess I'll get a 'D' grade & "try harder next year" :)

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