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.
Let us work with love and without fear of our faults, those inevitable and habitual companions of the great qualities. Yes, faults are qualities; and fault is superior to quality. Quality stands for uniformity in the effort to achieve certain common perfections accessible to anyone. Fault eludes conventional and banal perfections. Therefore fault is multiple, it is life, it reflects the personality of the artist and his character; it is human, it is everything, it will redeem the work.
You cannot understand typography and typefaces without knowledge and you can’t keep that knowledge for only yourself. ¶ Type design is a cultural act, not just a few lines of data in the corner of a hard disk.
This then is the scribe’s direct purpose: the making of useful things legibly beautiful.
In reading, for example, the enunciation of a proposition, we are apt to fancy, that for every word contained in it, there is an idea presented to the understanding; from the combination and comparison of which ideas, results that act of the mind called judgement. So different is all this from the fact, that our words, when examined separately, are often as completely insignificant as the letters of which they are composed; deriving their meaning solely from the connection, or relation, in which they stand to others.
After the semitic invention of the alphabet, the invention of the word is the single most important invention that I know. The word – and with it reading – is what has made western civilization possible. I want to take stock of this turning point in the story of civilization, but I cannot find reference to it in the history books, nor in the paleographic corpus. Even in cultural-historical literature the concept of the word does not make an appearance. I had to seek out the invention of the word on my own from reproductions of old manuscripts. If I can rely upon the dating of their origins, then the word appears to have been invented in Ireland in the first half of the seventh century.