Truly too busy to be publishing even a short blog post at this moment; however, I just came across the loveliest thing, and I feel compelled!
Look, near the top of this post from Kicks Condor, at the place where he quotes Maya. I’ll just do the same here, and see if I can replicate the effect:
This is a “whostyle”: an attempt to carry the ~timbre~ of an author’s voice, in the form of their design sensibility, through into a quotation. It’s the author who defines their whostyle; the quoting site just honors it, a frame around their words.
I think the whostyle makes a few arguments. Among them:
Text is more than a string of character codes. Its design matters, typography and layout alike; these things support (or subvert!) its affect, argument, and more.
The web should be more colorful and chaotic, along nearly every dimension. The past five years have brought a flood of new capabilities, hugely expressive —
Quoting is touchy, and anything you can do to cushion it with respect and hospitality is a plus.
Here is an original-ish explanation of the whostyle “protocol”, which isn’t even a protocol, really, just… a sensibility? An invitation? To make the styled quotes on this page, I went looking for the appropriate CSS and jammed it in. Very brittle, not “scalable”: and I celebrate those properties.
I’ll add that even this glancing encounter with whostyles sharpens my annoyance with Twitter, the way it “smooshes” contributions into uniform, stackable blocks. But a timeline demands this, right? Maybe; I think a timeline of tweets brimming over with typographic variation would be tons of fun. Give us a miniature grid, let us play Müller-Brockmann!
Platforms built around video support variation; your video has to accept a particular frame, sure, but as it unspools, it can be as weird as it wants. It’s a shame that text on Twitter isn’t allowed even a faint suggestion of the same expressive latitude. It betrays a particular view of what text “is”—and while it’s not 100% wrong, I do think it’s… impoverished?
Anyway! Regarding whostyles, Kicks writes:
Here’s some more recent elaboration on whostyles from Jacob Hall. I don’t, honestly, think these are going to “catch on”—but what would that even mean on the web of 2021, anyway? And who cares? They are being used by an interesting coterie; they are open to everyone; they are gestures of respect, hospitality, conviviality. More than enough.
You can also see the logic of whostyles at work on Multiverse, the very interesting blogging platform engineered by Kicks along with Weiwei Hsu.
And of course, I don’t get it as much as Kicks gets it —
August 2021, Oakland
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