Category Archives: fonts

An evolution: Japanese language and “connectivity”

Looking forward from a point in time: not too long ago, people used to think of that the Japanese had extremely advanced and sophisticated mobile device networks and habits, but not as advanced internet tools e.g. they paid their bills through their keitai and chatted with others using BBSes.

Looking backwards from a point in future: Now that it’s clear that what we previously thought of as “online” and “mobile” worlds are converging however, those looking back at this period in future (researchers, analysts, academics?) might see that the Japanese experience simply evolved differently.

Lisa Katayama sketches in a Wired article:

The Internet didn’t take off in Japan the way it did in the US. It was strictly a place for geeks and otaku until relatively recently. The key reasons were obvious: Most sites were in English, and typing in Japanese on a computer keyboard was arduous and counterintuitive. (Even today, more people in Japan access the Web via their cell phones rather than on their home or work computers.)

Tokyo had its own mini-dotcom movement called Bit Valley in the late ’90s, and a few of those boom-era companies remain today, including popular Web portals like Rakuten and LiveDoor. But there’s a generally accepted sense that the country has lagged behind the West in developing its own innovative companies focused on the Web. Tellingly, some tech companies that vanished entirely from the US when the bubble burst, such as Infoseek, still exist in Japan.

(via her blog Tokyomango)

This parallels a bit Chinese writing was first absorbed into Japan, innovated on to suit local conditions — hiragana, katakana — but had certain elements that stagnated, such as kanji writing. Visually, some characters in Japanese are still written in ways that aren’t used any more. Practically, meanings have changed too.

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“Austerlitz” and Eric Gill

I managed to get a copy of W.G. Sebald’s last novel Austerlitz via BookMooch

(I suspect this will be one of the last I mooch. Many books I want aren’t available through the site. And of the ones that are, their owners often aren’t willing to ship them outside their countries. (Bookmooch members have set up a Bookmooch Angel Network to try and get around this, which is nice of them but still a clunky solution.) Simply, I’m unwilling to spend money on expensive postage to get points I can’t use.

Besides, there is no lack of good books in this country.)

Anyway, this paperback printing of Austerlitz is set in Perpetua and, more surprisingly, seems to follow Eric Gill’s rules for page layout.

Randomness #54x

Still alive! Too much working and reading, not enough writing.

– All the cool stuff happens after I leave. Chicago now has a Festival of Maps. That’s a small version of a 17th century Map of the Nile on the site. Big version here.

– Detailed satellite surveys show that Angkor was probably as big as modern-day LA, adding credence to theories that people eventually deserted the city because its surrounding environment couldn’t sustain it.

– If you’re too lazy to search for clips of the Helvetica documentary on YouTube (like me), World of Kane kindly provides a selection.

– Radar finds out how desperate some folks in Second Life are for virtual sex (Funny, but NSFW photos):

Radarette: Very good! Ready for something a little … HARDER?

Student: Yep.

Radarette: Haretown and Tortoiseville are 50 miles apart. A hare travels at nine miles per hour from Haretown to Tortoiseville, while a tortoise travels at one mile per hour from Tortoiseville to Haretown. If both set out at the same time, how many miles will the hare have to travel before meeting the tortoise en route?

– Speaking of sex, The 50 Greatest Sex Scenes in Cinema

– The 12 Sins of Chopstick Use (in Mandarin script)

Tibetan-inspired Chinese typography