Reading Response D -- Typography Re: Technology

In this sense a 'meta-font' is a schematic descripton of how to draw a family of fonts, not simply the drawings themselves. Such descriptions give more or less precise rules about how to produce drawings of letters, and the rules will ideally be expressed in terms of variable parameters so that a single description will actually specify many different drawings.


The art of letter design will not be fully understood until it can be explained to a computer; and the process of seeking such explanations will surely be instructive for all concerned. People often find that the knowledge gained while writing computer programs is far more valuable than the computer's eventual output.

In order to explain a font design to a machine, we ened some sort of language or notation that describes the process of letter construction. Drawings themselves do not suffice, unless the design is so simple that all fonts of the family are related to each other by elementary transformations.

I understood that letterforms were initially created and carved by hand and a type specimen book that housed a type family would show a series of different fonts (different sizes and weights) so that the curious book or poster designer could assess which font he or she would opt to choose. However, I did not realize that all fonts were not simply a scalar of itself, that to fully understand a font, one must understand the way in which it was created. This "how" when drawing a family of fonts can lend itself to better and more well informed creativity when designing something new.

Now I understand why sometimes a "bold" or "italic" modification in Word or through HTML does not necessarily look correct; it seems as if the computer has applied a general obliqueness to the letterform rather than gathering the necessary information to properly draw a new family of letterforms. The machine applies a general formula to all typefaces without understanding (to the degree that a computer machine understands) the way in which the typeface works. It is a much simpler solution to instead uploading all of the necessary files that would precescribe each typeface's font families.