Archive for May, 2013

The death of the written word.

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I no longer buy a hard copy of newspapers but prefer to read them online. They’re portable, easy to read and have high quality resolution for the graphics and photos.

In many ways they’re far superior to the printed versions.

However many of the online news and editorial articles are increasingly containing video. In fact one of our local Melbourne newspapers, The Age, is becoming more of a TV station than a newspaper.

Audio books are also on the increase and now Google has announced that their primary mode of search will be voice activated not written.

The result of this visualisation of content is that many people will prefer to have their news and information read to them rather than reading it for themselves.

When I was a kid I loved having books read to me but I only got to really appreciate the joy of literature when I started to read them for myself.

It was my voice, in my head, interpreting the words and filling in the gaps.

My voice was painting the pictures and creating ’The World’ of a particular story or author.

Advertising used to be a combined craft of the visual and the verbal, with quality pictures complementing excellent writing. Now most ads consist of an average picture, headline and a short, boring, piece of copy.

Long copy ads, that involved the reader in a journey of discovery about a product or service, have vanished. They’ve been replaced by a fast grab of visual and verbal cliches.

The beauty of the written word is that it involves you in a two way communication. You read the words, interpret them and are subsequently rewarded by that creative act of interpretation.

I loved reading the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. Through his craft he was able to described a world that was beyond our creation. Yet because of our imagination we were able to see that world, in our mind’s eye and visualise it for ourselves.

Seeing Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Hobbit was exciting but no more so than creating my own vision of The Shire, Gollum and Middle Earth.

If we lose the written word we will lose the ability to create visions of our own.

And what a loss that would be.

I went to NerdCamp.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last weekend we went to the Melbourne WordPress WordCamp at RMIT University.

It was fantastic value at $50 for the two days, including lunch and 2 cups of excellent coffee – the preferred beverage of Nerds.

The real value came in getting to understand WordPress and how it works a little better.

I spoke with developers and a number of web designers. The one thing that surprised me was how little attention is paid to typography and type standards.

Now I find this a little strange as WordPress, blogging and websites in general are more about words than pictures.

Some of the ‘Designers’ I spoke to seemed more interested in the look of their sites and not at all interested in how well they communicated.

Most of the WordPress themes and Plugins are also all about look and not content.

The common consensus, within the WordPress community, is that there are real problems with type standards, however little is being done about it.

I come from a old school graphic design background where column width, leading, kerning and tracking were all considered essential in developing readable type.

I would be interested to see what new developments WordPress are making in this area.