Tuesday’s Rant: Amateur Hour

Posted in Uncategorized by DCroy on 16 December 2008

I’ve gotten a couple of emails about the script piece I did. They’re mostly younger people and granted the young are stupid, but they all ask what software or font* made it. I can understand that they may not know the intricacies of Spencerian script, but I cannot understand their  assumption that there are no intricacies to be known. 

There is an idea that seems to be prevalent lately that there is not much to be known about anything. This link is a potshot (assuming it’s not a hoax), but there is abroad what I think of as a late mutation of the self-esteem movement: that our own knowledge is the only knowledge. The lady in the clip (to whom we’re all supposed to feel superior (when frankly we should be ashamed at the depths we’re willing to allow our educational system to sink to)) does something that a lot of us do: takes her own assumptions as totally, unquestioningly valid. From there it’s not a big leap to start spinning harebrained theories. 

Theories not unlike the ones in my emails: the existence of software that somehow automatically draws flourishes for you, or that there is a font with those exact flourishes included. Theories that don’t include the notion that someone worked for scores of hours refining a design on a piece of tracing paper – actually, many many pieces of tracing paper – before getting a computer involved at all.

One more (supremely irritating) example: often I typeset really horribly written copy. Can I express the seething locomotive of hate that barrels through my brain when the grammatical corrections I’ve made get unmade? No, I cannot. 

There is a lot to be known. And, not to get all Rumsfeldian or anything, I think you’re much likelier to improve once you’ve begun to embrace the existence of known (and unknown) unknowns.

* I hate the word font as much as I do the word blog although both are perfectly valid and reasonable – but then again I also hate moist and blinker too .

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  1. Rick Cogley said, on 18 December 2008 at 9:49 pm

    David – I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Younger colleagues at work tend to want solutions on a silver platter. I work in consulting and technology, where the whole POINT is to think things through and come up with solutions for clients. People who get it, do well. I still have faith that there are young people who pay attention to detail, though. Maybe it’s a matter of audience?

    At any rate, I’m off to blog about moist fonts. 🙂

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