Text must (and can) transcend ASCII

Daring Fireball makes the case (if one needed to be made) for gracing the Web with real typography and the use of such non-ASCII characters as curly quotes and em dashes.

Proper typographic punctuation is 400-year-old news. That it’s considered exotic, or even non-standard, on today’s web is embarrassing. The solution isn’t for everyone to limit themselves to the same character set used on 1970’s-era VT-100 terminals. The solution is for software developers to write smarter software. Every day more web sites are starting to use smart punctuation, making sites that don’t — and the software behind them — look bad.

I haven’t been able to meet my typographic ideal yet with MediaSavvy, but it’s a medium-term goal for this site, once I get the content and focus where it needs to be. But, after reading The Elements of Typographic Style (an amazing book), I’m ready to polish this site’s design.

The 400 years of typographic tradition have (unconsciously) conditioned our readers to conventions that we flout at our peril.

4 thoughts on “Text must (and can) transcend ASCII

  1. I hate smart quotes (“curly quotes”) and their ilk. They’re much harder for my eyes to recognize. They add _nothing_ to the experience and do frustrate some of us.

  2. Transcending ASCII?
    MediaSavvy: Text must (and can) transcend ASCII says Barry. While I completely understand the point that he makes – and agree with it to a point, there must be a stronger emphasis placed on useability. Software generally sucks, interfaces continue to b…

  3. Software might get better
    Barry Parr over at MediaSavvy and I did some back and forth on application utility/useability v. aesthetic. This piece on Blogging with Radio and eVectors by the good folks over at Macromedia highlights how progress is being made slowly but surely on s…

  4. Software might get better
    Barry Parr over at MediaSavvy and I did some back and forth on application utility/useability v. aesthetic. This piece on Blogging with Radio and eVectors by the good folks over at Macromedia highlights how progress is being made slowly but surely on s…

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