This website uses a few different fonts:
One is Filosofia, designed in 1996 by Zuzana Licko and published by Emigre. I’m a huge fan of Licko’s designs; they feel to me like avatars of an age. I also love the fact that Emigre funded its iconic magazine with the sale of digital fonts: one of the all-time great cross-subsidies.
Another is Trade Gothic Next, a 2008 revision by Akira Kobayashi and Tom Grace of Jackson Burke’s 1947 design. I love fonts of this style, called “grotesque”. It was years ago that I learned the Star Wars opening crawl is set in, of all things, News Gothic; that’s what cracked it open for me.
Headlines are set in Eskapade Fraktur, designed in 2012 by Alisa Nowak. I think this font is a perfect modern blackletter, participating in the style’s slow but steady redemption.
Update: I’m currently setting headlines in Corfe, designed by Simon Walker. I have been totally locked into Eskapade for years, and not for lack of trying alternatives; it’s just that every other typeface has looked WRONG, somehow. This one caught my eye, so I thought I’d give it a real audition.
Fiction is, when appropriate, presented in my Perfect Edition template, which uses Vollkorn, the “free and healthy typeface for bread and butter use” designed by Friedrich Althausen and provided as a profound public good.
This website is managed using Middleman, a static site generator that’s simple and flexible and, most importantly, written in Ruby, which is the programming language I know best.
A few scraps of support code run as Google Cloud Functions, all of them written in Ruby and Google’s Functions Framework, a real pleasure to use.
I send emails using Mailchimp, which I operate through its API, choreographing messages with a Ruby script that I run on my laptop.
You might have picked up on the fact that I like Ruby; in fact, it is the great love of my programming life. Its creator, Yukihiro Matsumoto, once expressed Ruby’s philosophy like this:
For me, the purpose of life is, at least partly, to have joy. Programmers often feel joy when they can concentrate on the creative side of programming, so Ruby is designed to make programmers happy.
This site doesn’t collect any information about you or your reading. I do track the open rates of the emails I send through Mailchimp. I’m ambivalent about even this level of instrumentation, but/and, for me, it’s balanced against the publisher’s imperative not to spam the world with material, physical or digital, that is unwanted and unread.
I’m noting a few sitewide preferences here, mostly for myself:
Titles of books, periodicals, movies, etc. in plain text rather than italics.
Email, but e-book. Website. Web page, strangely. Data center.
Penumbraverse, not Penumbra-verse.
Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks for complete sentences; otherwise it goes outside, in the UK style.
After the first reference to the full name of an author, artist, etc., references are their first name alone rather than their last name alone, even when I don’t know them personally; indeed, even when they are someone famous, erudite, serious. Is that too casual? Overfamiliar? Maybe! I’d rather take that risk than suffer the stuffiness of the last name alone —
“Sloan makes some interesting choices in his style guide”—which doesn’t suit the vibe of writing, linking, and thinking together on the web.
Here and there, I use the term “assumed audience”, cribbed from Chris Krycho. For example, look at these two posts of his —
I liked Chris’s placards as soon as I saw them; I appreciate the way they push back against the “context collapse” of the internet, in which every public post is, by default, addressed to everyone.
Many websites provide this bulwark themselves; an article posted on Work Truck is automatically pretty well situated. But that’s not the case for material on a personal site with many cross-cutting interests, and readers who arrived for many different reasons. I can only report that I’ve often felt a tension between
padding a nerdy post with explanatory material, trying to make it legible and inviting to many people, and
going straight in, trying to write something crisp and useful to others already enmeshed in the conversation.
I think both impulses are good, actually, but they’re not always totally compatible. The tension is ongoing; it’s close to the core of what writing is. Maybe being explicit about my assumed audience for certain newsletters will be helpful; maybe it will just be extra cruft. We’ll see!
Finally, I hope it goes without saying: just because you’re not part of a newsletter’s assumed audience doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a look 😇
November 2022, Oakland