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Wise words on webfonts

My brain shuts down over webfonts. I can't muster the will to care. Partially it's because I really hate designing and building websites and I just don't want to know more because then it will be easier to avoid it altogether. Partially it's because I’m waiting to see how much hideousness will result from this incredible race to make a gajillion fonts available for the web, when the browsers, the users, and the fonts themselves just don't seem to be up to the task yet. Oh sure, there's potential, but it all seems so familiar. Or, as summarized very neatly by John Hudson in this Typophile thread:

To me, the rush to the web fonts market looks pretty much identical to the rush to the desktop publishing market, so I’m expecting a lot of bad typography and difficult to read text, and the better part of twenty years to clean up the mess. It isn't good enough to say that 'if somebody chooses a font that ... stinks, that’s their choice', because typography serves first reader, then the text, and only then the author/publisher.

Comments (4)

1) Richard: Totally agreed -- although you realize that we're soon going to be the old-timers who leave comments on websites like, "Back in MY day, we only had Times, Georgia, and Arial at our disposal, and we made out just FINE." (May 4, 2010 12:05 PM)

2) sparky: Just fine? Fuck that. It's been annoying, but at least the handful of fonts we could rely on were made well for the job at hand. The flood of shitty typography we're about to see will make us long for numbing sameness of page after page of Georgia. (May 4, 2010 12:35 PM)

3) Tiffany: Hideousness. Yes, a thought like this crossed my mind. Not everyone will have the sense (or sensibility) for choosing the better of the available fonts. I'm enjoying some of the best of it happening now, but am also sure the onslaught of ugly will hit us making the good disappear behind all of the bad and ugly. (May 4, 2010 7:43 PM)

4) sparky: I certainly hope things go well. I really want to see good type on the web, and for the folks who want to take the time to be good typographers, the various webfont schemes will make some good options available. So far we've probably been paying attention to colleagues who are taking the time and making the effort to do it right, but already I'm seeing the first signs of a tidal wave of poorly considered suck waiting to happen. (May 4, 2010 10:55 PM)

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