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My Blog
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
friends of gill
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: my favorite music....
Let's say you're riding the subway. Normal people might be trying to figure out how to get the cute girl across the car to talk to them. Obsessive compulsives might be trying to figure out what caused the suspicious looking stain on the seat next to them. Me? I'm trying to figure out what font the ad for some community college is set in.

We have a lot of different kinds of nerds at meebo - people who know the difference between Class A and Class B Berkshire Hathaway common stock (finance nerds), people who care deeply about the Oxford comma (grammar nerds), and people who debate the relative merits of Gill Sans and Arial (we, the typography nerds).*

"Fonts" is a pretty obscure thing to be obsessed with, but people who get into it are *really* into it. We have our own website, movie, clothing, and our own hoax. The season premiere of The Office showed a too-elegant-for-her-own-good art professor walk into a full classroom and dryly quip "Sorry I'm late, I accidentally switched my alarm clock setting to Zapf Chancery." At least one person on the internet didn't get it, and perhaps the best explanation is that there's nothing to get—it was really just a meaningless joke that made the typography nerds swoon—we like *any* reference to typography.

Typography draws much of its terminology from The Lost Art of Letterpress - a system of printing where each letter was engraved on a tiny piece of metal, and these pieces had to be painstakingly lined up (backwards) to create pages of text. There's an entire system of measurement that's almost exclusive to typography (1 inch = 6 picas = 72 points; ems and ens depend on the size of the font), and entire vocabulary to describe fonts and layout (kern, glyph, serif, dingbat, recto, verso, ligature).

It's all a bit pretentious, it's true, but art students are used to that. One of the more pretentious constructs is the colophon - a page at the back of some nicely designed books that describes the typography and production processes used for that book. In closing, I offer a colophon for meebo:

Meebo's logotype is set in Monotype's Arial Rounded, a sans-serif font designed in 1993 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders. Text type in meebo.com is Tahoma, a humanist sans-serif font designed in 1994 for Microsoft Corporation. Logo colors are Pantone 151 and Pantone 647. Meebo.com was launched in 2005 and is produced using JavaScript, Python, and C. Production systems run Linux.

-a

*We also have computer nerds, but that one was too easy.

Posted by xan08 at 8:28 PM EDT
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