Typography, believability, and what literacy means

Via the NYTimes.com – Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth.

The first part of this two-part series from The New York Times discusses the impact of different fonts on people’s opinions – the font used in a document appears to have an impact on whether people believe the content to be true and/or take it seriously.

The second part takes a look at John Baskerville, the creator of the font that was considered “most believeable” in the survey in part one.

One of the ideas that jumped out at me in Baskerville’s story – not the main point at all, but I found it interesting – is that Baskerville was critiqued as being “illiterate” by his contemporaries. But clearly he could read, and what they meant by the criticism was that he was unfamiliar with literary references, i.e., he wasn’t versed in a body of literature they considered to be “canon” for educated people of their time.

Clearly the common meaning of the word illiterate has changed over time, because it now means “completely unable to read” when we call someone illiterate. By the definition of Baskerville’s contemporaries, I’m probably quite illiterate.

And fuck you guys, I can read, bitches.

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