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#a365 :: Lead type

February 15, 2009

021509It’s fitting that I mark the end of my second full year of daily obsession on this blog with such an archetypal handful of heavy little objects:

I found these samples of a truly lovely display font in an antique shop in rural Arizona earlier this week – artifacts of a dead technology going for a buck apiece.

Moveable type remained nearly unchanged for more than 400 years after Gutenberg first puzzled it together – solid blocks shaped into reversed letters, inked to move message to page – until computers blew away all the old technology and the ensuing conflagration began taking with it the newspapers, magazines and other ephemera with which a race has spent centuries defining itself … I won’t get misty-eyed about the death of type: Digital technology is tugging us inexorably into a new phase of intellectual and emotional evolution.

The fact that I can make a living as an “information architect and social engineer” tells me the sea change is far from over, that we will be a more interactive and fluidly creative society as a result, and that we may be bereft of the printed word entirely in another 50 years or so, as digital paper, handheld readers and other gadgets reshape the way we communicate.

But I do mourn the slow death of traditional journalism, as its chief practitioners struggle ineptly and all too slowly to adapt to a world that is abandoning printed news.

It pains me that their love of this medium has – until recently and all too late – blinded them to the road the rest of the world is taking.

And it gives me a bittersweet pang of amusement to realize that I’m stringing these words together in that most ephemeral of media – a blog that might or might not be here a year – or a century – from now.

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, Objet, symbol, Tool | Comments (2)


  1. Phill February 21, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    It was a very good year. Thanks, Mack, and keep up the good work.

  2. mack reed February 22, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    Thanks, Phil – and thanks for bein’ a fan.

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