Monthly Archives: December 2013

Typography workshop

I stumbled on Skillshare recently and promptly signed up for emails, which is how I found myself in a free class called Typography That Works. Each lesson has a few videos that provide a bit of background and another video that generally walks you through the assignment. The project itself is broken down into small steps and you can check them off as you go with the option to share your progress and ask for feedback from your classmates. The big project is to design a business card. I am provided with business cards by the college and I’m not a freelance designer, so I’m designing it more as a calling card.

business card final

Since all these classes are designed by different people, I can’t speak to how Skillshare runs in general. This class was taught by Ellen Lupton of Thinking with Type. I can say that this particular class is very much focused on typography and assumes some background in design and associated software. This class seems to be directed towards the freelance designer and not to the ” beginner who wants to unlock the power of type” as the class was billed. It will not hold your hand and tell you the mechanics of how to make things happen. I’ve been using my beloved InDesign with side trips to Photoshop to blur out personal information and create collages of options before posting my project publicly. The last class in the series of three mentions specifically that the assignment works best with access to Adobe Illustrator, which I don’t have, so I was unable to fully explore the assignment as directed. I’ve also had some trouble because I haven’t been able to try out most of the fonts suggested. I’m wondering if it’s a Mac vs. PC thing, because I know for sure that have used some of the suggested fonts before. Anyway, I don’t suppose it matters that much because there’s always a substitute available. It would just be nice to be able to play around a bit more.

I’m pretty pleased with my final result, although the signature green color I used is much less electric in print. It’s interesting to really think about type and typefaces. I know that I’m sensitive to type as it relates to my name and how it is presented. M’s and G’s tend to be pretty distinctive letters, and I’ve been know to choose a typeface for professional documents like my CV based on how the G’s are designed. I’ve added Thinking with Type to my wishlist. If you are interested in a fairly quick, three-session workshop in the super slow January season, I recommend it.

Dewey facts

Here are some fun facts about Melvil Dewey:

  1. He was born on this day in 1851.
  2. He was the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, which remains “weirdly out of date, reflecting the small-town sensibility of a student at a tiny Christian college in the mid-1870s.”*
  3. He loved the metric system, hence the decimal part of the Dewey Decimal System.
  4. He also had a thing about spelling and thought that things should be spelled phonetically and without redundant letters. Hence, his given name of “Melville” became “Melvil.”
  5. He was a founder of the Lake Placid Club in Lake Placid, NY, some 20 miles from where I currently am sitting.
  6. The Paul Smith’s College Library is and will continue to be a Dewey library, despite the general trend for Library of Congress classification in higher ed. This is because: 1. Reclassifying a whole library is a giant pain and 2. Melvil Dewey was a “local boy.”
  7. The fact that this is a Dewey library means that the time I spent shelving books in a public library has been unexpectedly useful in my current position.
  8. He was, apparently, not a very nice person.
  9. His penchant for spelling reform is the reason the Adirondack Loj is spelled the way that it is. (Sidenote, the Loj is highly recommended for local hiking and backpacking.) (Side sidenote, I’m not convinced that “loj” is an accurate representation of the phonetics of “lodge.” I hear a D in there, don’t you?)
  10. Later in life he established a Lake Placid Lodge in Florida. Then he was a thorn in the side of Lake Stearns, Florida until they agreed to change the name of the town to Lake Placid just to shut him up. (I’m projecting here, but it doesn’t seem like much of a leap)

I’m currently dipping in and out of Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger. It just so happens that I picked the book back up after a break on today of all days, hence your fun facts for the day.

* Weinberger, David. Everything is Miscellaneous. New York: Holt Paperback, 2007.

The Brain Scoop

You know Emily Graslie, right? Emily has a YouTube channel called The Brain Scoop, which started at the University of Montana Zoological Museum and has since moved to the Field Museum in Chicago. If you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend that you do. Emily’s job title is Chief Curiosity Correspondent, but really what she does is education and outreach. My favorite videos are the less scripted ones, the ones where the education happens informally. (I tend to like the dissection ones because I’m… gross? I find them really, really interesting. Example: The Wolf series. There are plenty of non-gross ones, too.)

Last year about this time, I was researching educational YouTube videos in preparation for my own video project. I stumbled on the Vlogbrothers channel. This is where The Brain Scoop started, in this video here. Even though I have had absolutely nothing to do with Emily’s success, I feel sort of invested and proud. I’ve been there since the beginning.

But then there’s this video, which makes me even prouder:

Way to go, girl, and keep it going.

I know that YouTube is supposed to be a community, and that the internet supposedly sparks conversations, but I rarely read comments myself for these very reasons. This video dovetails nicely into a conversation I picked up from Andromeda Yelton about women in tech a few weeks back and continued in various places, including Jason Griffey’s blog. I had some strong Feelings about this conversation at the time, but was unable to communicate them accurately. I’m continually turning all of this around in my head, trying to find my way through the gendered expectations of me related to all the different things I do in my life. Unrelated to libraryland I’m in a local band where the singers vs. musicians break down into clear gender lines. I straddle the line, occasionally singing, always playing. The unspoken assumption that as a female in the band I must be only a vocalist is pervasive. People are surprised to find that I mostly hang out in the back with the men, and I take 99.9% of the solos. It’s tricky business, walking the line of gender issues. I’m so glad to see people talking about it publicly.

It’s the end of the semester and you should really go check out The Brain Scoop with a cup of coffee and a cookie or two, just keep an eye on the Grossometer.