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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Writing with Complex Type


Writing practices that integrate dynamic and interactive strategies into the making and reading of digital texts are proliferating as more of our reading experiences are mediated through the screen. In this paper we argue that rarely do current approaches to creating digital texts operate at the basic textual level, that of the letterform itself. We argue further that such neglect is partially the result of the fact that current font technology is based on print paradigms that make it difficult to work programmatically at the level of individual letters. We then discuss work that has been made with software produced in our lab that suggests the creative possibilities in being able to easily specify behaviours at such a level. We conclude by proposing that writers, typographers and programmers start thinking beyond Postscript-like formats such as OpenType or TrueType to collaboratively develop a new ComplexType format (or formats) that is designed for the twentyfirst century as opposed to a simulation of the fifteenth.

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