Language is not so much a creator or shaper of human nature, so much as a window onto human nature.
Usually, and quite rightly, newspaper design is bound by the conventions of its production and structure, by the fast turnaround of ideas that precludes against overtly expressive design, and by the formal traditions, craft and Victorian ideologies of the newspaper. News designers live very much on the grid, working from templates, tied by the rules of preassigned headline, text, caption sizes, precise spacing. It is an exacting, dictatorial, inherently rigid view of the world of design. The grid is the imperious king, with whom you do not mess.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
–Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Words are defined as vehicles that takes us even mentally, spiritually, physically, to places that we’ve never gone.
On the Web, design is not a method for implementing narrative, as it is in print, but rather it's a method for making behaviors possible. If one must compare the web to other media, typography would be a better choice. For a web design, like a typeface, is an environment for someone else's expression. Architecture (the kind that uses steel and glass and stone) is also an apt comparison — or at least, more apt than poster design. The architect creates planes and grids that facilitate the dynamic behavior of people. Having designed, the architect relinquishes control. Over time, the people who use the building bring out and add to the meaning of the architect's design. Web design is not book design, it is not poster design, it is not illustration, and the highest achievements of those disciplines are not what web design aims for. Web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity.
Teaching allows focusing on problem solving, as Mies van der Rohe justly said, ‘in architecture one is confronted with problems for which one must find solutions. The best architecture is the clearest and most direct solution to the problem.’
If all writing is information storage, then all writing is of equal value. Each society stores information essential to its survival, the information which enables it to function efficiently. There is in fact no difference between prehistoric rock paintings, memory aids (mnemonic devices), wintercounts, tallies, knotted cords, pictographic, syllabic and consonantal scripts, or the alphabet. There are no primitive scripts, no forerunners of writing, no transitional scripts as such (terms frequently used in books dealing with the history of writing), but only societies at a particular level of economic and social development using certain forms of information storage. If a form of information storage fulfills its purpose as far as a particular society is concerned then it is (for this particular society) ‘proper’ writing.
The relevance of “U&lc” to designers and students today cannot be underestimated. “U&lc” showed how typography could be used as an art form to facilitate communication and convey ideas. Lubalin and his predecessors often did it by hand or with photo-lettering, whereas today we can use Illustrator and Photoshop. But the goal is the same, to create design that has emotion and power. The tools have evolved but the ingredients are the same — typefaces and the letterforms.
Writing software without defects is not sufficient. In my experience, it is at least as difficult to write software that is safe — that is, software that behaves reasonably under adverse conditions.