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robertogreco : typewriters   10

Introducing Operator | News, Notes & Observations | Hoefler & Co.
"A monospace typeface, a monospace-inspired typeface, and a short film about type design."
typography  terminal  fonts  coding  monospace  hoefler&co  typefaces  typewriters  2016  via:ayjay 
february 2019 by robertogreco
History of the typewriter recited by Michael Winslow on Vimeo
"“The History of the Typewriter recited by Michael Winslow” is a 21 minutes long film made by Ignacio Uriarte."
classideas  michaelwinslow  documentary  film  ignaciouriarte  typewriters  machines 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Asemic writing - Wikipedia
[See also:

Lyn Hejinian: "In responding to the Dubravka Djuric's question about the origins of my interest in writing, I said that it as the materiality of writing that first drew me to it, the prospect of working with 'the typewriter and the dictionary.'"

[See also:
"Definition Not Found: The last refuge from #content might just be asemic writing" by Rahel Aima

"Asemic writing might be better understood not as illegible but as ‘post-literate’"

"Within the sphere of green anarchist thought there is a current that bills itself as primitivist, with all the condescending fetishism that “primitive” invokes. Avowedly anti-technology, the anti-civilizationist critique of capitalism extends beyond the environmental degradation and forms of domination of contemporary production to rail against the concept of civilization itself. The sphere of alienation is extended beyond labor; as theorist John Zerzan lays out in Running on Emptiness, it is the regime of symbolic thought that is believed to most deeply distance us from our authentic selves, which are arbitrarily defined as the way we once existed as hunter-gatherers. Art, music, mathematics, literature, speech: any mode of representation is highly suspect. It’s the paleo diet, but for culture. Zerzan’s vision for the “future primitive” would have us living in a silent, pre-pastoralist utopia where we exist wordlessly amongst the trees — beyond art and agriculture and beyond semiotics, or perhaps more aptly, before and unsullied by it. While Zerzan’s concepts seem attractive as a thought exercise, they are unconvincingly and rather petulantly argued. Who would want to do away with the back catalogue of some of the only good things to come out of the morass of humanity as we know it? Perversely, a reading of these texts makes me wonder about the possibility of an asemic writing made not by humans, but by bots and other algorithms.

In 2011, So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi created the Senseless Drawing Bot, a kinetic drawing machine that is Jean Tinguely-meets-Mars rover. It pairs a motorized skateboard with an arduino, and a long-short double pendulum that induces an element of chaos, to spray graffiti on the wall. There’s a lot of empty swinging and swaggering, a louche calisthenics. It makes a mark only when its randomized wobbles pass a certain pre-coded threshold, when it’s sure all eyes are on it, and then its gestures are fast, flashy, and nonchalant, as if drawn from immense, tumescent muscle memory. It’s all big words and it’s trying hard to flex; if ever a bot has seemed like a blustery fuckboy, this is it. The outcome is surprisingly great, a dense accumulation of multicolored freneticism, neat on the bottom and looping wildly on top like an overgrown hedge. Unlike the aforementioned Tag Clouds, it points to a machinic tagging that does not mandoline work into strict taxonomies, is unreadable by human viewers, and does not — yet — appear to be machine readable, either, as well as the delightful paradox of generative bots which are programmed by people, yet also enjoy their own agency.

In the realm of graphic notation, Emma Winston’s @GraphicScoreBot tweets out an image resembling a graphic score every hour. Each tweet features an outlined white rectangle, usually with stave lines, and often with a bass or treble clef and dynamic markings, so it’s clear we are to read this as music. Except, instead of conventional note forms, its markup includes an array of colorful geometric shapes, squiggles, and dashes. Circles of varying sizes and transparencies especially make the images feel like musical infographics (to me, they seem to suggest duration; others might see in them chords or orchestra stabs). There are semantic ruptures: the bot will, at random, tweet out cards from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies, entreaties like “Trust in the you of now,” “A very small object. Its center,” and “Slow preparation, fast execution.” Less bombastic are the double-spaced “B E G I N” and “E N D” that pepper the scores, which Winston suggests can be taken as start and end points or altogether ignored. Though the scores are generally sparse, occasional plaintive adverbs and phrases like “sadly,” “casually,” and “as if tired” make suggestions as to mood. Cameos by Italian terms like con moto (with movement), andante (at a walking pace), and quasi niente (fade away to nothing) make the scores feel somehow more official. If the “post-literate” leads us to interrogate what we consider to be writing, this bot’s relative adherence to notational convention, more Fauvism than De Stijl, does the same for the musical score.

Also on Twitter, Darius Kazemi’s @reverseocr tweets out asemicisms more akin to those absentminded doodles, each cryptic scrawl accompanied by a random word, like “subtlety,” four times a day. It’s a study in impenetrable handwriting, only here the writer is not a shrink with a prescription pad but a bot. Without that accompanying word, the marks, while elegantly spare, are unrecognizable as anything but marks. So far, so asemic. Yet the way the bot works is by selecting a word and then trying — badly, endearingly — to draw it out. It keeps drawing, and failing, until an OCR or Optical Character Recognition program (the question of literacy is transposed to the algorithm, here) identifies a character. If that character matches the first letter of the word, “s” in the case of “subtlety,” that character gets drawn and the bot turns its attentions to the second character, “u.” If not, it perseveres until it gets a match, and eventually it manages, through trial and a lot of error, to draw out the whole word; we only see these successes. Of course all of these computational processes happen at lightning speed, but in a 2014 adaptation of the work for a show at Boston’s now-shuttered Find and Form Space Kazemi slows the algorithm down to a human timescale and makes visible the otherwise hidden work performed by the bot. The word here is, appropriately, “labor.” Yet there’s something in @reverseocr’s yearning to be understood — to be read, to be recognized by another — that makes me think it’s a kind of unrequited love. There is a 1973 interview with James Baldwin in the Black Scholar in which he says, in response to a question about the role of political themes in his writing,
The people produce the artist, and it’s true. The artist also produces the people. And that’s a very violent and terrifying act of love. The role of the artist and the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. Insofar as that is true, in that effort, I became conscious of the things that I don’t see. And I will not see without you, and vice versa, you will not see without me. No one wants to see more than he sees. You have to be driven to see what you see. The only way you can get through it is to accept that two-way street which I call love. You can call it a poem, you can call it whatever you like. That’s how people grow up. An artist is here not to give you answers but to ask you questions.

Kazemi’s bot expands the field of how we might understand asemic writing. Illegible though its drawings may be to our eyes, it is without doubt trying very, very hard to communicate meaning. Humans are not its intended audience; rather, its visual language, like barcodes or the computer vision markup of Amazon warehouses, is entirely for bots, machines, scripts, and other denizens of the algorithmic world. It’s a robot laughing alone with salad, and its inner life, its own well of lactic acid that it draws from to express itself, is off-limits to us. We, however, are on view to them, from the moment we press our thumbprints into our iPhones in the morning to the moment we touch-type a 2 a.m. text message whose characters are so drunkenly scrambled as to form complete non-words, which an algorithm gently corrects to other words we did or did not mean, so long as they’re legible. Perhaps this is an imposition on our freedoms; perhaps this is that two-way street between us and the algorithms, learning from each other; perhaps this is love."

via: "This @_reallifemag essay on asemic writing by @cnqmdi might be the best unwitting 'take' on Trump, covefefefe, etc." ]
writing  asemicwriting  scribbling  randomness  typewriters  dictionaries  howwewrite  materiality  rahelaima  jeremybushnell  lynhejinian  dubravkadjuric  content  joséparla  apophenia  oseneworkekosrof  scat  scatsinging  conlang  language  experession  hélènesmith  medewianta  mirthadermisache  zhangxu  marcogiovenale  timgaze  jimleftwich  dariuskazemi  bots  emmawinston  horse_ebooks  huaisui  cursive  legibility  illegibility  avakofman  covfefe  literacy  postliteracy  ocr 
june 2017 by robertogreco
How to Write a History of Writing Software - The Atlantic
"Isaac Asimov, John Updike, and John Hersey changed their writing habits to adapt to word processors, according to the first literary historian of the technology."

"There are three things I really like about that story and why I feel like it’s the best candidate for quote-unquote “first.”

One, it defamiliarizes our sense of what word processing is. It’s not a typewriter connected to a TV set. The key thing turns out to be the magnetic storage layer. The other thing thing I like about it is—there’s a term I use in the book, “suspended encryption.” That captures that dynamic of word processing: You’re writing, but there’s a kind of suspended animation to it. The text remains in its fluid, malleable state, until such time as you commit it to hard copy.

The other thing I like about the story is that it captures that gendered dynamic, that social dimension of writing. It’s not just the author alone at his typewriter. It’s really a collaborative process, there is a gender dimension to it, and there’s something very human about it, I think."

"Meyer: There is a material history you can read from a typewriter. I think you mention the example of Lawrence Rainey, a scholar of T.S. Eliot, being able to decode The Waste Land’s compositional history by looking at his typewriter. And I remember there being anxiety around writing software, and the future of that kind of scholarship. Did writing this history make you buy into the anxiety that we won’t be able to preserve contemporary literary work?

Kirschenbaum: So much of writing now, and that includes literary writing, that includes novels and poetry that will become culturally resonant and important—all of this happens now digitally. And that was something that I was interesting in writing about, writing the book. What I found is that there were often very surprising examples of evidence remaining, even from these early days of word processing history.

There’s a kind of paradox at the heart of this. As you know, we’ve all lost files, or had important stuff disappear into the [digital] ether, so there’s all that volatility and fragility we associate with the computer. But it’s also a remarkably resilient medium. And there are some writers who are using the actual track-changes feature or some other kind of versioning system to preserve their own literary manuscripts literally keystroke by keystroke."

"Meyer: You talk a little bit about looking at different paths for word processing after Word. You go into “austerityware,” which is your phrase for software like WriteRoom, which tries to cut down on distractions. Is there any prognosticating you feel like you could do about what’s catching on next?

Kirschenbaum: I do think we’re seeing this interesting return to what instructors of writing for a long time have called free writing, which is just about the uninhibited process of getting stuff out there, doing that sort of initial quick and dirty draft. What’s interesting to me is that there are now particular tools and platforms that are emerging with that precise model of writing in mind.

The one that’s gotten the most attention is the one I write about at the end of the book. At the time I was writing, it was called the Hemingwrite, but now it’s called Freewrite. It’s essentially a very lightweight, very portable keyboard, with a small screen and portable memory. It reminds me of the way a lot of writers talk about their fountain pens—these exquisitely crafted and engineers fine instruments for writing. The Freewrite aspires to bring that same level of craft and deliberation to the fabrication of a purpose-built writing instrument.

So, you know, in a sense, I think we’re going to see more and more of those special-purpose writing platforms. I think writing might move away from the general-purpose computer—we’ll still do lots of writing of all sorts at our regular laptop, but it might be your email, your social media. For dedicated long-form writing, I think there may be more and more alternatives."

"Meyer: One thing I love about the book are all the office pictures—the pictures from ’80s offices, especially. There is a sense looking at the images that the desks are retrofitted writers’s desks, rather than the kind of generic surface-with-a-laptop setup that I think a lot of people work at now.

Kirschenbaum: The visual history of all of this is really interesting. One of the hard thing was trying to figure out is, what is a literary history of word processing, how do you go about researching it? Maybe by going to the archives, but you also do it by looking at the way in which computers really were represented in the kind of imagery I was looking at earlier. You look at the old office photographs. You see a picture of Amy Tan sitting with a laptop and you try to figure out what kind of laptop it is, and lastly you do it by talking to people. It was the oral histories I did that were the best research for the book."
robinsonmeyer  wordprocessing  software  history  isaacasimov  johnupdike  writing  howewrite  computing  matthewkirschenbaum  lendeighton  ellenorhandley  johnhersey  jerrypournelle  sciencefiction  scifi  thomaspynchon  gorevidal  charlesbukowski  rcrumb  tseliot  lawrencerainey  trackchanges  typing  typewriters  freewrite  writeroom  hamingwrite  evekosofskysedgwick  howwework  howwewrite  amytan 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Fighting Illiteracy With Typography by Yara Khoury Nammour (Works That Work magazine)
"The intriguingly beautiful calligraphic principles of Arabic script have long defied attempts to facilitate mass production by print technologies developed for Roman letters. Unified Arabic is one such attempt, and significant obstacles stand between it and widespread adoption.

In 1932, a Lebanese architect walked into a classroom at the American University of Beirut to fill in for a professor who taught basic Arabic typing skills. In an effort to welcome the class, he started typing ahlan wa sahlan (‘welcome’), but, finding it difficult to locate the right keys for the right variation of the letter heh, he mistakenly typed an initial heh form instead of a medial one. He noticed, however, that what he had typed was still perfectly legible. He suddenly realised that by reducing the number of letter variations, the problem of finding keys on the typewriter could be easily solved without affecting the legibility of the text. He decided then and there to work on unifying all the variations of the Arabic letters. The architect’s name was Nasri Khattar, and he called his project Unified Arabic.

Students of Arabic start by learning its basic, unconnected letter shapes, only to be confronted with a myriad of wildly differing variations. The letter meem, aside from its four basic shapes, has more than 30 ligature forms.

Unified Arabic (UA) is basically a set of 30 letterforms, one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet, plus hamza and lam alef, eliminating the variant forms that make reading and writing Arabic difficult for beginners. The Arabic writing system is based on flowing calligraphic forms that connect letters within words, and the letters vary in shape according to their position in the word. Most of its 28 letters have four varying shapes, initial, medial, final and isolated, but, with the addition of ligature forms (used when writing specific letter combinations) and vocalisation marks, a complete set of glyphs can easily reach up to 150 shapes, depending on the complexity of the script. This made typing Arabic immensely complicated, as the large number of Arabic letter variants was too large to fit on the 44 available keys but Khattar realised that matters could be greatly simplified by distilling the hundreds of variant shapes into their most characteristic forms.

Using a reductive design process, Khattar worked to discover these characteristic shapes. Hundreds of sketches reveal a struggle with the most basic forms on both the functional and aesthetic levels, while other sketches try to find solutions—ranging from the simple to the bizarre—for the dots and the vocalisation marks. Furthermore, the letters are designed to be representative of the streamlined spirit of Western civilisation: quick, mechanised and labour saving, similar to Latin type forms and proportions, which Khattar acknowledged as one of his inspirations.

But would typewriter manufacturers be interested enough to invest in the project? Remington Rand was the first to be approached, but the project quickly proved unrewarding, although one prototype Unified Arabic machine was actually produced. IBM, however, was quick to recognise UA’s socio-political implications, and so the journey began.

‘I am going to stake my reputation as a literacy man: I believe that, using this alphabet, the illiterate will learn in one-tenth the time that it now takes; and that means that probably ten times as many people will learn to read.’ — Frank Laubach

Unified Arabic was not the first attempt to adapt Arabic to mechanical printing processes. As early as the 15th century, printers had attempted to simulate the cursive forms using movable type, but their efforts to stay true to the script’s calligraphic nature resulted in type cases of up to 500 characters per font (roughly eight times the size of the Latin character set), making manual and mechanical typesetting a laborious task at odds with the demands of unit-based mass production.

By the end of the 19th century, the detrimental social and economic effects of the impracticality of printed Arabic were clear: throughout the Levant region (modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt) illiteracy was widespread, and books were scarce and expensive, available exclusively to the ruling class and clergy. However, after 400 years of stagnation under Ottoman rule in Syria and Lebanon, and influenced by French and English colonial rule in Egypt, the people of the region were gradually waking up to the distant thunder of the Industrial Revolution coming from the West, setting the stage for renewed efforts to facilitate reproduction of the Arabic printed word.

Spurred by a growing rate of literacy, inadequate supply of books and favourable political circumstances, several reform trials in the Arab region began, instigating a movement of cultural change closely linked to the printed word. This movement, a form of a revived Arab Renaissance, called for a literary cultural awakening, new religious interpretations, modernised political ideas and language reform, opening the door to a new visual interpretation of the Arabic letterforms. By the beginning of the 20th century, the time was ripe for rapid modernisation. Unified Arabic, whose core idea was simplification by eliminating the unnecessary, seemed perfectly matched to its time."
arabic  typography  middleeast  literacy  language  education  yatakhourynammour  unifiedarabic  typewriters  print  printability  masrikhattar  linguistics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Scribes Thriving As Ghostwriters In Mexico City - Sun Sentinel
"People have been coming for years to the public scribes of Santo Domingo Colonnade with the stuff of their lives -- love, disillusionment, longing and commerce.

In times gone by, the scribes brought out sharpened quills and ink to record the sentiments of Mexico City`s timid, illiterate or harried. More recently, they set up their typewriters.

Although the tools have changed, the scribes still reduce the dramas of life to paper with style and compassion for those unable to put their feelings into writing.

Since Spanish Colonial rule in the 1850s, about 25 scribes have been sheltered under a colonnade near Santo Domingo Church.

Hipolito Ortiz, who has practiced the trade for half his 50 years, said business is flourishing but is not what it used to be. The education level has risen in Mexico, meaning many lovers, children or businessmen can write their own missives. In addition, the telephone has opened the possiblility of direct communication."

[via: ]

[See also: “The disappearing tribe of India's letter writers” ]
writing  mexicodf  mexico  history  recordkeeping  transcription  typewriters  writinginpublic  services  communication  memory  literacy  illiteracy  letters  letterwriting  df  mexicocity 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Video: Typewriter stays relevant in technology-saturated world | Technology | Los Angeles Times
"The simplicity of the typewriter is alluring to writers who may be overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by increasingly elaborate technology. A typewriter is also appealing in its transparency -- whack a key, and watch the typebar smack a letter onto a piece of paper. Try figuring that out with a laser printer. Many people also find typewriters charming ambassadors of a bygone era. One recent customer asked Flores to fix her mother's college typewriter so she could type letters home when she went off to college."
srg  writing  glvo  typewriters  technology 
october 2008 by robertogreco

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