Smashing week

Smashing types

My slides from SmashingConf in Freiburg are on Speakerdeck, with some additional annotations. The video of the talk will go online at some point, is now online, but the slides capture the key points.

The stats on Speakerdeck suggest that people find the slides useful, but we are still a bit off from an easy way to host a presentation that makes the content searchable, taggable, connectable. The new TED system of linking the talk transcription to the video is very impressive, but difficult to imagine for smaller events with tighter budgets.

The effort put in to get “just” good video and audio from presentations is already substantial, especially for academic conferences and smaller events (i.e. tight budgets, uneven expertise). For speakers who plan their talks integrating images/video into the spoken narrative, the challenge is harder.

Immediately after SmashingConf, Joana Correia and Eben Sorkin captured almost the totality of the talks at ATypI Barcelona (which will be posted online over the coming weeks and months on the Association’s site). Their dedication and hard work was humbling, but it was obvious that even professional recording systems are external to the presentation proceedings. In a sense, the capturing setup is a plugged-in observer, rather than integrated in the presentation itself. Going further, I’d argue that capturing should be integrated into the authoring process, with markup, annotations, and linking considered from the outset.

This seems like a good time to revisit my thoughts from a year ago on capturing conference presentations, although – TED system apart – most of what I wrote probably stands.

Alice Savoie in BCN
We should be able to markup the slide with “Adrian Frutiger”, “Lucette Girard”, and “Ladislas Mandel”; “Deberny & Peignot”; the location, the attribution, and a description of what’s going on, during the making of the presentation! Alice provides a suitable caption, but video capture does not “read” it in a useful manner.

Typography everywhere

Slide from Ampersand lecture


The first time I heard a typographer complain that people who design texts for screens “don’t get typography” was in 1994. Since then I’ve heard this repeated many times, but relatively few people moved from a – usually unspecified – “what they don’t know” to “how can we explain what matters?” There’s been notable efforts (not least Bringhurst on the web) but I never felt they capture the more complex of typographic decisions.

I’ve been thinking about what typographers would need to explain to related professionals, but a discussion last January with Rich Rutter (who, incidentally, was also responsible for the online Elements I link to above) and Ben Mitchell spurned me to put my ideas into a self-contained presentation. The talk, the first of three that outline similar ideas, is is now on Vimeo. The other two will happen in Paris in a couple of weeks, and in Munich in November.