Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Enjoy Smart People and Dumb Quotation Marks (Refresh DC)

I made it to my first actual Refresh DC event tonight (I'd been to a happy hour or two before). Got to Georgetown slightly late, and I think I passed up a couple close parking spots because I wasn't sure they were valid. Chicken.

The speaker was Ellen Lupton talking about typography and design. Her presentation was funny and engaging, though I have to admit I was feeling a bit contrary tonight. Also, it looks like Twitter ate the updates I sent during the event, but bad typography is not a "crime against humanity."

Also, when it comes to quotation marks, as much as she hates dumb quotes, I hate smart quotes -- while I understand the usefulness and aesthetic, in practice, we've all been burned too often by cutting and pasting smart quotes that turn into little boxes or otherwise get munged. You can blame Microsoft or other software developers, but if text is something that people are going to work with and not just look at, until you can fix these kinds of real-world problems, it's just not worth the trouble.

And even though I appreciate good design, something felt a little hollow -- like the idea that good design justifies frivolous consumer consumption that will fill some void in our lives. (And I'm as much of a consumer as anyone.)

Or perhaps the notion that crafting is on the rise because fewer and fewer of us have vocations where we actually make anything worthwhile, and try to make up for it by creating silly notions, stuffed soft goods, t-shirts, papercraft and the like.

Like I said, I was feeling contrary and a bit off, so I skipped any post-event socializing and trucked home for a late workout. My neck is still a little sore from hitting the turf last night, so I ditched the pullups, but I felt a little better afterwards.

2 comments:

Shaun said...

Interesting post.. I to was at refresh-dc last night and I didn't find it that informative although I could care less about typography since I am a developer. I leave that up to the design people.

As for the quotes I totally agree. What's the difference between " and “

Joelogon said...

Shaun -- when it comes to typography, I generally don't care, as long as it doesn't get in the way of the content. But I can appreciate the thoughts and processes behind it. The problem I have with smart quotes is that by trying to be smarter than the user, it causes dumb problems...