Re: A .notdef glyph

From: William Overington (
Date: Fri Nov 08 2002 - 04:08:54 EST

  • Next message: Marco Cimarosti: "RE: A .notdef glyph"

    John Hudson wrote as follows.

    >At 05:26 11/7/2002, Michael Everson wrote:
    >>Please don't. William, no one really wanted you to make a .notdef glyph.
    >>John was pulling your leg. Sorry I responded to the matter. Please don't
    >>waste your time and ours by writing up a case history.

    Thank you for your concern: however the case history will probably be less
    than a thousand words and I will try it anyway for my own interest and as a
    learning activity. I shall hopefully complete it and place it in our family
    webspace. People do not have to read it or even visit the webspace if they
    do not wish to do so!

    >I was indeed pulling his leg, but I also knew that he would actually go off
    >and do it.

    Well, you claim that now! At the time it appeared as a genuine suggestion.
    Reading the suggestion again now in the light of that claim produces no
    indication that that was the case at the time. I did not notice the split
    infinitive at the time though, perhaps I am now being more thorough in my
    reading. At the time I took the suggestion as a genuine opportunity which I
    should seize.

    You suggested an exercise for me and I attempted it. You do not have to
    comment on my design if you do not wish to do so, but it would be nice if
    you did. Did I complete the project brief as you stated it at the time? If
    not, how does the design not fill the stated project brief? I like the
    design which you produced with the counterchanged question mark. Yet is
    that rather anglocentric when perhaps a .notdef symbol should perhaps be
    best designed so as to be suitable for fonts in many scripts?

    >He's that personality type.

    The Myers Briggs Type Indicator of personalities is good!

    >By the way, on the subject of copyright, the design is pretty much useless
    >if it is copyrighted,

    As I stated, copyright subsists automatically in the United Kingdom.
    However, I did not even think in terms of copyright when I attempted the
    exercise and sent you and the list the result. However, your suggestion
    that the design is pretty much useless if it is copyrighted is just one
    opinion out of those which are possible. Copyright is a very important

    >so if William wants anyone to use his design he
    >should make a formal declaration of deposit in the public domain.

    Oh no! I don't assign intellectual property rights to the public domain. I
    may choose to publish an invention rather than patent it for reasons of my
    own, but I do not assign any rights to the public domain.

    I might also license something for free use, but I do not assign
    intellectual property rights to the public domain.

    >afraid, if he is hoping that people might pay him a license fee, he's out
    >of luck.

    Yet I had not even thought of that. I simply attempted a learning exercise
    which was suggested to me by a professional typographer. I have learned a
    lot from the exercise, both from trying it, from reading the comments in the
    Unicode mailing list and in private email and from following up the various

    I have received a number of helpful emails off-list.

    I can imagine that there will be an art exhibition of .notdef characters,
    with the characters shown on large panels, both alone and amongst a page of
    text, so that viewers of the exhibition can look at them. Maybe my attempt
    will be included in the exhibition, for completeness, as it is the suggested
    exercise and my response which has been the catalyst to start this thread.

    Readers interested in art and typography might like to know that one of the
    four nominees for the Turner Prize 2002, an event sponsored by Channel 4, an
    English terrestrial television channel, then search
    for Turner Prize, has produced some sculptures of full stops from various
    fonts in huge sizes. If one follows the link through to there is an illustration of them between half
    and two-thirds of the way down the

    The Turner Prize is an annual event about modern art, in previous years it
    almost invariably has the tabloid press having headings like Rubbish and so
    on. Yet it is very influential. It has brought an awareness of modern art,
    like it or not, to a large proportion of the public. Channel 4 started
    sponsoring the already existing event about ten years ago or thereabouts and
    that brought it centre stage with television coverage of the awards ceremony
    and various programmes before the event showing the work of the nominees.

    >Even if his design were the most excellent .notdef glyph possible,
    >every type designer would still presume that he or she could design a
    >better one, especially if using William's required them to pay.

    Well, that is a matter for them. I simply carried out an interesting
    exercise suggested to me by a professional typographer.

    I hope that a hypothetical if about what I might think then some downbeat
    quip against that imagined thought by the hypothesiser does not give people
    the idea that I think such iffy thoughts!

    I just happily designed a .notdef glyph in response to the exercise.
    Certainly, now that there has been a discussion about .notdef glyphs and
    references to various documents and examples, I might now think about
    another design.

    However, what I produced was a work of art produced without the knowledge
    which might have constrained my thoughts had I previously known about the
    various documents and examples beyond the plain black rectangle. A sort of
    primitive art, unconstrained by the chains of knowing about what is usually
    expected of such a design?

    William Overington

    8 November 2002

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