Recently in People & Places Category

A new logo, some new fonts, a couple other small changes just happened on this site. In honor of the upgrade, I present three of my favorite typography web sites.
300&65 Ampersands is a straightforward Tumblr blog with a new ampersand every day. Start your day with an ampersand.
I Love Typography is a more general font site, with font reviews, guest posts by font designers, and design commentary. It's always engrossing.

Typesites reviews entire web sites made with beautiful type, which has the added wonderful-ness of uncovering new corners of the web.

Jason Epstein on the e-Book Revolution

“As non-negotiable as earthquakes.” That's how book publisher Jason Epstein aptly refers to new technology in “The Revolutionary Future,” which appears in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. His essay is solid, grounded, and optimistic.

He envisions a future in which it is the readers, not the publishers, who discern “Keats’ nightingale” from “Aunt Mary’s haikus.” It’s a democratic world, but as a reader, the idea exhausts me. I guess that means we'll rely even more on recommendations from our preferred tastemakers. And maybe that’s how most people find the books they read anyway. That being said, I’m a big fan of judging my books by their covers. So I’m casting my vote that the (only somewhat) hypothetical new virtual bookstore allows for browsing book covers.

Epstein also advocates for strong digital rights management, saying “without protection authors will starve and civilization will decline.” He proposes a digital lending, rather than purchasing, model, to more accurately reflect the true reader-publisher relationship. I think that idea has merit — if electronic books are going to be less expensive than paper books anyway, why not introduce them as borrowed items? I would gladly subscribe to my favorite dictionary and be free to upgrade to the next edition when it comes out, and with most books, having them for a year would probably be enough.

Check out the whole essay — it’s just great to read a piece by someone who’s not prophesying that the book-publishing sky is falling.

Ben Fry at Columbia

Last night in the architecture school at Columbia University, data visualization expert Ben Fry addressed about a hundred architects and guests who, presumably, want to make data look good.

As I want to make data look good (and live only blocks away), I was among them.

The image above is a tiny slice of All Streets, a piece that traces the continental US only by plotting its roads. Fry showed the piece last night, highlighting how the geography of the Appalachians stands out, even though no geographical data is explicitly included. 

He used All Streets and a number of other examples in an attempt to define "data visualization," by contrast with information graphics. Information graphics, in Fry's paradigm, are constructed by hand and contain tens to hundreds of data points. Data visualization, however, represents thousands or millions of points — far more than a designer can do by hand. Data visualization, therefore, depends on code.

Fry said he did All Streets, with its droves of data points, in an afternoon. He does have a Ph.D. from the Aesthetics + Computation group in MIT's Media Laboratory, though. Still, Fry said he harbors a dream of turning every designer into a programmer. To that end, he is working on his free data visualization software, Processing, to keep making it more appealing to designers. 

As an outsider who's approaching this field from the programming side, however, I won't need to wait.

About this site

    Katie Peek is a science writer and astronomer who is figuring out how to give voice to information and data. This web site is a log of her voyage.