Who is Luc Devroye

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

...and why does he have on of the biggest collections of info about type design on the web?

http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-index.html

hrant's picture

it's a matter of finding the middle ground

Indeed.
Try harder.

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

FWIW, Luc is here at the ATypI conference in Hong Kong, and we had a really fun discussion last night. He and I may disagree on a issues around IP, but we have reasonably compatible views on a fair number of technology questions. I'll be happy to chat more with him in the future.

hrant's picture

That's pretty much my relationship with him too!

hhp

Richard Fink's picture

Thomas - if you do chat more, ask Luc if there's something that can be done about the font(s) and default font sizes he uses on his web site!

Karl Stange's picture

Just found this quote while looking through, Fonts & Encodings by Yannis Haralambous:

Without a doubt, bitmap font formats are things of the past. Aside from a few visionaries such as Luc Devroye {117}*, who dreams of the perfect rendition of a font in bitmap form with a pixel having the size of a molecule of ink (!), few people give serious consideration to bitmap fonts today, since all operating systems, without exception, have switched to vector fonts.

*Luc Devroye. Font formats, talk given at EuroTEX 2003, ENST Bretagne, Brest, 2003.

oldnick's picture

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Luc in person, but we enjoy a collegial relationship, and I am in awe of his data collection, coordination and compilation skills.

I also plan to send Luc any duplicates which he might be interested in from the collection of nineteen cartons of typographically-related books I am donating to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. IIRC, I have at least one additional copy of the BB&S Specimen Book #25, which I don't believe he has in his collection…

http://luc.devroye.org/lucbtype.html

hrant's picture

Without a doubt, bitmap font formats are things of the past.

Yes, reading is indeed a thing of the past. It's much easier to control the masses when you direct them towards pictures, music and videos.

hhp

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:
Yes, reading is indeed a thing of the past. It's much easier to control the masses when you direct them towards pictures, music and videos.

Fahrenheit 451 notwithstanding, though, how does using TrueType instead of bitmap fonts - bitmap fonts being used on systems with less processing power available, but now even tablets and cell phones have enough power that this doesn't apply to them - interfere with people being able to read?

Particularly as bitmap fonts tend to be low-res, although I know there were laser printers that used 300 dpi bitmap fonts.

oldnick's picture

The font format doesn't interfere with people's ability to read: TMI does…

hrant's picture

Equating the favoring of gray blobs of text over jarringly crisp letterforms with a deprecation of reading might seem over-the-top, but to me it's all a matter of intent. Sure, you can read blurry text, just like you can get by with a one-button mouse. But what is the intent of entities that take us down such routes?

What better way to curtail social dissent and thereby make the rich richer, than to deprive people of the will to read, than to divert our minds from the complexities that can only be expressed by written language?

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Mitt Romney for Blurry Text, well, because, he was for Sharp Text yesterday.

5star's picture

What better way to curtail social dissent and thereby make the rich richer, than to deprive people of the will to read, than to divert our minds from the complexities that can only be expressed by written language?

'You miss too much these days if you stop to think' ... U2

The decline of dissent is brought on by those who can baffle brains ...Obama's hope poster readily comes to mind. Interesting that I'd bring that up in a thread which talks about IP rights. Obama endorsed a poster done by a guy who is, and always has been, known as an expert plagiarist.

Hook, line, and sinker.

The ability to read or the curtailment thereof is not what dummies down social dissent. What is written does. When people see a crack in the facade they begin to question the foundation. And that is what leads to dissent.

n.

oldnick's picture

The ability to read or the curtailment thereof is not what dummies down social dissent. What is written does. When people see a crack in the facade they begin to question the foundation. And that is what leads to dissent.

Well, that is what used to happen with people were actually literate—you know: beatniks and hippies and such. Now, due to the enormous excess of superfluous information on the web and on phones, there is no foundation: an ad-hocracy rules.

The increasingly alarming number of totally clueless first-time posters in this forum illustrates—at least to my demented mind—how thoroughly this Dancing Pixel Circus we call the internet has short-circuited rational thinking…something which my old buddy Marshall McLuhan predicted 48 years ago. The bad guys did figure it out first; now, it’s time to counter…

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:
gray blobs of text over jarringly crisp letterforms

Oh, no; it isn't over-the-top to say that something which negatively impacts the quality of type would harm reading.

I just had not realized that vector fonts had that effect; or, for that matter, technologies like Clear Type for antialiasing, if that was what you're really referring to (they seem to massively improve the appearance of type when resolution is limited).

oldnick's picture

McLuhan called print a hot medium because of the level of participation required to interpret—and thus vividly imagine—the content. Ultra-sharp type dumbs the process down—to the extent that one recent forum poster, obvious young, complained “Who can remember what they read anymore?” Indeed: what a vast improvement over those gray blobs :Þ

OTOH, consider this optical and syntactical work-out—

I loved the raw energy of this poster so much that I created this font, devoting a lot of care to offering the widest range of glyph-mixing…

http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/nicksfonts/outgribe-nf/

hrant's picture

What is written [dummies down social dissent].

If people bother reading. When you remove reading from the equation entirely, nobody even has a chance of promulgating thoughts that can lead to real dissent.

All this talk of social media fomenting political upheaval is bunk: all it's doing is helping to replace dysfunctional formal systems with lynch mobs. This only really benefits rival dysfunctional formal systems. :-/ Orange Revolution, Arab Spring, all a joke at the expense of peons.

the internet has short-circuited rational thinking…

It must depend on the person, because in my case it has helped me think more and more deeply; partly because it has helped me learn more and more deeply. Because I read instead of watching YouTube.

I just had not realized that vector fonts had that effect

Whenever you address something besides what's really going on, pixels*, you can't hope to be optimal. Now, vectors can be made to fall pretty neatly on pixels (hinting) but it's such an unnatural uphill fight that it was bound to lead to abandonment. Just like how ATF incorporated optical scaling into their pantograph, but eventually nobody was using that feature, they just made all the sizes from one master. Result: save money at the expense of reading. Capitalism and Culture are not friends.

* And broadening this I would say it's the same problem with chirography: it addresses "expanded skeletons", while in reality it's all about the limen.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Because I read instead of watching YouTube.

Precisely…although, sometimes, accommodations must be made for some really honkin’ harp…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h08d803TAJ0

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:
All this talk of social media fomenting political upheaval is bunk: all it's doing is helping to replace dysfunctional formal systems with lynch mobs. This only really benefits rival dysfunctional formal systems. :-/ Orange Revolution, Arab Spring, all a joke at the expense of peons.

Of course, this isn't exactly new. The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution... and the collapse of the Roman Empire were all used as examples in British education about history of how terrible it is to fall prey to the seductive calls of demagogues.

Of course, all that education somehow didn't inspire the rich in Britain to avoid the excesses of the Industrial Revolution.

If you don't want the misery of a demagogic revolution and the tyranny that follows - if the privileged don't want to lose their places to a new political elite - the obvious thing to seek is a humane economic system which brings jobs to everyone and minimizes discontent.

hrant's picture

But make sure Culture doesn't get short shrift, lest we settle for "give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt".

hhp

5star's picture

Capitalism is the perfect fertile ground for Culture to not only take root but to also stand the test of time. Capitalism has given you excellence for the ages.

At best Socialism breeds mediocrity ... at worst everybody thinks they're an artist.

n.

hrant's picture

Open your mind - there are many more possibilities than those two (both of which are way too young to have proven their worth). Speaking of two, it's super efficient because it's the smallest number that still gives peons the illusion that they have the power of choice...

hhp

5star's picture

Without measure you have no worth. And even tho my efforts - try as hard as I might - will never be as valuable as yours, your typeface is more valuable than mine. A worth that must be measured.

Capitalism is the method by which we can determine your worth.

Sure politics have some weight, critics too, but at the end of the day it is the character of your typeface which will determine its value ...and mine too. And yes, everybody does deserve a payable job ... so long as it's not the same job. Clearly your typeface will be of more use than mine, therefore it is of a higher value ...mine is of a lesser value. And as the author of your typeface, your property can be protected via copyrights.

Your unique ability to create something of value makes you separate. It makes you separate from me and everyone else. It makes you an Individual. An Individual with rights and freedoms.

Weights and measures, that's what Capitalism gives to society as a whole.

n.

hrant's picture

You speak of Materialism, which is a natural human trait. But not all that counts can be counted.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Capitalism is the perfect fertile ground for Culture to not only take root but to also stand the test of time. Capitalism has given you excellence for the ages.

Capitalism has given us gross inequity in the distribution of resources, social injustice, massive debt and social atomization. My worth is not determined in dollars and cents, and individualism destroys Society—whatever that means anymore.

oldnick's picture

Sorry—double-post. The server was struggling to load my first reply, so I got impatient. My bad…

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:
But make sure Culture doesn't get short shrift,

Well, the Nazis tried to promote culture, although they never seemed to get beyond kitsch.

The Communists in Russia had the ballet, and chess, and symphony orchestras. North Korea is also big on music.

So high culture can just be window dressing for tyranny; what the masses need so as not to "live by bread alone" is not so much culture per se as freedom - and to be equipped for critical thinking.

Some forms of culture help that - specifically literature. And I'm sure that's what you really were thinking of in this connection.

hrant's picture

There's nothing "window dressing" about the Soviet cultural contribution.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19202527

hhp

5star's picture

You speak of Materialism, which is a natural human trait. But not all that counts can be counted.

hhp

The rest is simply unnatural.

n.

hrant's picture

Culture is not unnatural.

"Fighting against nature
is part of nature too."
– Midnight Oil

hhp

oldnick's picture

No: Culture itself is not unnatural, but some cultures are…

5star's picture

What is more transitory than Culture? As quad says in his latest post Culture is neither here nor there ...ergo, it's everywhere.

Capitalism, with its freedom of expression and market forces, is the most fertile ground for Culture to take root. Simply look at the most recent Cultural development ...graffiti. And look to Basquiat, Haring, Banksy, et al... to see the impact of Capitalism as a fertile ground.

Despite your spite, Capitalism has pushed forward that funky little thing called Culture. And in doing so letter shapes in general and to certain extent graphic design (including typography) have greatly benefited!!

n.

quadibloc's picture

@hrant:
There's nothing "window dressing" about the Soviet cultural contribution.

The article you mentioned,

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19202527

said the Soviet Union, being totalitarian, was a cultural desert, so it doesn't seem like a contradiction.

hrant's picture

Neil, you'll think and say anything to justify your own culture.

John, no article is perfect. Look instead to the "tyranny" angle.

hhp

5star's picture

Hrant, nobody owns Culture. And as history has proven time and time again, Capitalism is the most fertile ground to sow your Cultural seeds. If I was in a give-me-everything society where the spirit is comfortably numb, I wouldn't be half as inspired as I am in a society of Capitalism.

Commerce is everything.

Royal patronage, communist patronage, dictatorial patronage, whatever, all have made some form of manipulated contribution to Culture but it is Commerce ... and especially in its purest form of Capitalism ... which has proven to be the most fertile ground for Culture to flourish. Why? Because it is a dynamic environment it energizes the spirit!

Where would the graphic arts be without the merchant class of Tokugawa Japan? Where would be the academic arts be without the House of Medici (et al)? As for Culture developed in and of Native / Indigenous peoples ... as awesome as it is it's dated and locked / frozen in time.

Commerce pushes the spirit that's when Culture advances.

imho of course.

n.

hrant's picture

Again you're actually talking about Materialism, which I'm more than fine with*. It's when the political system is based on money, when owning things is the sole objective of the leaders of a society and not just the minions (resulting for example in lawmakers being in the pockets or corporations), that's when things start going to hell, as they clearly are now in the US.

* Although, again, it's not the only "natural" thing for humans.

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

Wow. This is starting to get pretty close to

hrant's picture

Stop making Hitler special.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

hhp

quadibloc's picture

Well, yes, there's also Stalin and Mao. Accepting Leni Rifenstahl's craftsmanship, while deploring the uses to which it was put, is simply an honest way of facing both sides of the situation: where the problem is, though, is in the failure of the relevant artistic community to acknowledge theat Sergei Eisenstein is similarly problematic.

Hitler is special simply because World War II impacted even people living in secure first-world nations like France, Britain, and the United States. Not because those people are "better" than, say, the Vietnamese or the Armenians or the Copts, but they are wealthier and more powerful.

It's not about fairness. It's about the stupidity of picking on someone who is quite capable of fighting back, of picking on someone who is bigger than you are. Vide 9/11.

It amazes me that there are still parts of the Muslim world where non-Muslims are not equal, and where noises are made about how awful Israel is. Of course, though, apparently irrational behavior is a natural result of having to take care of the short term before there even is a long term to worry about.

hrant's picture

Inequality can be explicit or implicit. Which one is worse?

The awfulness of a nation is relative. Relative to how Israel is perceived in the US, it is quite an awful nation indeed. Which brings us to the real reason Hilter remains so special after all these years...

hhp

timd's picture

BURU or BURLI?

oldnick's picture

Well, Neil—

You've certainly bought Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand hook, line and sinker. The only “spirit” motivating Capitalism is greed: any ancillary benefits are not necessarily connected. Wake up, dude: Capitalism is killing the planet, and is content to let billions starve…

5star's picture

Oldnick, how many billions are starving in Capitalist societies? I mean ones that have true freedom of expression and rights for the Individual? How many? Like none.

Your brand of socialism is unable to accept the fact that those who sacrifice their whole lives to achieve something awesome in the world's Capitalist societies actually care enough to contribute billions of dollars in philanthropic endeavors to save lives.

As for greed, well oldnick that's found everywhere. It's not exclusive to Capitalism is it.

n.

timd's picture

What is the point of rose-tinted goggles if they are opaque?

Tim

oldnick's picture

Neil—

Your naïveté and your lack of compassion for the rest of humanity are both absolutely stunning. I have no “brand of socialism”: I merely advocate Social Justice for all, have-nots and well as haves.

Yes, greed is found everywhere. Toss a one-inch (25.4mm) square of white bread into an area where sparrows are feeding and you may witness the “I've Got the Big Piece of Bread” game: the males will fight each other for possession of this Object of Desire, but it won’t get eaten until it is torn apart in some confrontation. Squirrels are greedy when they discover oily seeds, probably because their high fat content adds to the squirrels’ myelin sheath, thus making it smarter. Anyone who has attempted to hang a birdfeeder and make it squirrel-proof can attest the the fact that the little buggers are Evil Geniuses—considerably smarter than dogs.

Saint Adam of Smith sanctified Greed as a Positive Social Benefit—via his Invisible Hand bullsh*t—and relentless pimping of this notion since has elevated Greed to the Ultimate Social Good. You may find this state of affairs acceptable; I do not. If we don’t reverse course—and soon—we will arrive at the Point of No Return in Capitalism’ relentless campaign to trash the planet. I would prefer that this did not happen…

5star's picture

Oldnick, you'll be pleased to know that I single handedly defeated Squirrel Nation.

For sometime now my elegant bird feeder design has comfortably thwarted any and all squirrel assaults. In fact the birds that come to feed everyday (some half dozen+ species ) are so comfortable they aren't scared off when the cute furry rodents try and try again to assault their feeder whilst they are feeding! Just last week I put out some peanut butter on the bird feeder just to watch Squirrel Nation fail.

Squirrel Nation is very persistent.

The fatal flaw in the evolution of the Squirrel's anatomy is its vestigial 'thumb' of their front feet. Ergo, they can't really grip an object like a human can grip an object ...squirrels only have a 'stub' of a bone structure which only provides a 'pad' for a fifth appendage of their front feet.

In my area we have tons of black squirrels, gray squirrels, red squirrels, and monster sized chipmunks too.

All bow their heads when I walk by.

:)

n.

oldnick's picture

Neil—

Consider your “victory” short-lived. And almost-opposable thumbs is a design flaw? What an odd conclusion to draw…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumb

Awhile back, I undertook an experiment to establish a relationship with one particular squirrel. As an incentive to cooperation, I provided treats which the squirrel was not likely to encounter—in this case, Turkish pistachios at ten dollars a pound. After a week, when I was fairly confident that the squirrel knew that I was his benefactor, I entreated him—through various hand gestures—to amaze me. Well, one gesture I tried—I am not absolutely certain which—encouraged him to do just that: amaze me.
He was in a crape myrtle tree with fourteen separate trunks, none more than a meter or so from its polar opposite. The squirrel proceeded to ricochet off the branches, with absolute precision, and at a very snappy—and accelerating— pace.

I normally do not use this expression, because it is so sorely abused, but this display was F*CKING AWESOME!!! After five or six times around, the squirrel paused for my reaction. Quite naturally, I bowed to the Master: Ninja Squirrel rules. I am fairly confident that any dog, witnessing this display, would give paws (ouch!) to the notion of ever again chasing a squirrel. OTOH, I would LOVE to have the squirrel repeat the performance with me inside the tree—not bloody likely (s0 far), but a breathtakingly spectacular prospect.

I might add, as a footnote, that my bow appears to have affected the larger squirrel population. My local squirrels no longer run away furiously when they see dogs on leashes; rather, they gambol off playfully—perhaps to taunt the poor dogs. At least one of the local dogs has sussed out that I may be the responsible party: she has taken to barking at me from time to time—which is unusual, because I speak Dog rather fluently, and generally enjoy a quite friendly relationship with them…

5star's picture

[$] DEMOCRACY [/$] ©

n.

oldnick's picture

Neil—

Is this a good thing?

5star's picture

Yes oldnick, it is a very good thing.

n.

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