- 1 week ago
- 2 weeks ago
Making all this bread (pun intended) is cool, I just wish I had time to spend it.
- 3 weeks ago
- 3 weeks ago
Can You Design a Universal Font?
“The changes might seem subtle—some readers of Wikipedia might not even know there’s a change!” says Wikimedia’s Director of User Experience Jared Zimmerman. “But for us, it starts to highlight some bigger issues.”
Those bigger issue stem from a daunting problem: Wikipedia is 100% open source and free for the world to use. But there is no free and open typeface that can render in all of the world’s languages. For those of us in the Western world, it’s not much of a problem. We’re privileged, using operating systems like OS X that license fonts for us. Plus, our Latin-based scripts are represented in the vast majority of typefaces, while most written language is actually not Latin-based…
…Historically, this has created a design culture of the haves and the have nots, in which the look of Wikipedia was subject to the whims of whatever your software providers had already licensed. When rendering its pages in your browser, all Wikipedia would ask for was “sans-serif”—basically, give me anything you’ve got that’s sans-serif! As you might imagine, this has been a mess.
Enter Google and its development of the Noto font family. The freely available font ”aims to support all the world’s languages” and achieve “visual harmonization across languages.”
No small task but to date the two-year-old project supports 600 written languages and 100,000 characters. In July, support for Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean was added.
NPR has a good article on the background and continued development of Noto. In particular, it takes a look at whether a company like Google should be doing this at all:
[C]ritics like Pakistani-American writer Ali Eteraz are suspicious about grand plans by any of these big companies.
"I tend to go back and forth," Eteraz says. "Is it sort of a benign — possibly even helpful — universalism that Google is bringing to the table? Or is it something like technological imperialism?"
What he means is that when one group of people (in this case, Google) decides what to code for and what not to — and in what way — people who are not a part of that decision-making process, those who actually use these fonts and these languages, can feel ill-served.
"Language is the building block of people’s identities all around the world," Eteraz tells NPR, “and Google is basically saying that, ‘We got this.’”
In other words, with great power comes great responsibility.
Image: Screenshot, Noto Sans Cherokee.
- 1 month ago
- 1 month ago