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kottke.org posts about Alphabet

Stone Alphabets

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 13, 2019

This is one of several alphabets assembled by Belgian type designer Clotilde Olyff from stones collected at the beach.

Clotilde Olyff

Here are a few more examples, some of which were featured in this book called 3D Typography:

Clotilde Olyff

Well, I guess I have a new beachcombing activity for when I get tired of skipping rocks.

Kinetic Alphabet

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2019

From London motion design studio Mr. Kaplin, an animated alphabet where the animation for each letter is a experiment that was completed in a single day.

See also The ABCs in Motion.

The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 05, 2019

Yi Script

The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets is a collection of “indigenous and minority writing systems”, gathered together in the hopes of collecting information about reviving interest in these alphabets. From the about page:

In 2009, when I started work on the first series of carvings that became the Endangered Alphabets Project, times were dark for indigenous and minority cultures. The lightning spread of television and the Internet were driving a kind of cultural imperialism into every corner of the world. Everyone had a screen or wanted a screen, and the English language and the Latin alphabet (or one of the half-dozen other major writing systems) were on every screen and every keyboard. Every other culture was left with a bleak choice: learn the mainstream script or type a series of meaningless tofu squares.

Yet 2019 is a remarkable time in the history of writing systems. In spite of creeping globalization, political oppression, and economic inequalities, minority cultures are starting to revive interest in their traditional scripts. Across the world, calligraphy is turning writing into art; letters are turning up as earrings, words as pendants, proverbs as clothing designs. Individuals, groups, organizations and even governments are showing interest in preserving and protecting traditional writing systems or even creating new ones as way to take back their cultural identity.

You can access the alphabets from a map on the front page or alphabetically here. The project is also looking for information on a number of possible scripts that may or not be still in use.

The image above is an example of the Yi alphabet, a script created during the Tang dynasty in China (618-907 AD).

The Evolution of the Alphabet

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 24, 2019

Evolution Alphabet

From Matt Baker of UsefulCharts, this chart traces the evolution of our familiar alphabet from its Proto-Sinaitic roots circa 1850-1550 BC. It’s tough to see how the pictographic forms of the original script evolved into our letters; aside from the T and maybe M & O, there’s little resemblance. Prints are available. (via the morning news)

Update: Baker did a corresponding video on the history of the alphabet that explains where the characters in our familiar Latin alphabet came from.

(via @dokas)

The ABCs in Motion

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2018

For this year’s 36 Days of Type project, Ben Huynh submitted this 3D animation of the alphabet from A to Z. You can see animations of the individual letters on Huynh’s Instagram. (via colossal)

A Pinterest board full of letterforms

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2016

Letterforms

Curated by Zach Davenport, this Pinterest board features all sorts of different letterforms, from A to Z.

Google, Alphabet, and the Googlettes

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 13, 2015

Google announced earlier in the week that they were creating a new company, Alphabet, to house a collection of companies, including Google.

What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity).

Google has been focused on diversifying their business for a long time, even before their IPO. In August of 2003, they posted a job listing on Craigslist looking for a manager to run their collection of Googlettes, which were essentially startups within Google:

What is a Googlette? It’s a new business inside of Google that is just getting started — the start-up within the start-up. We’re looking for an experienced, entrepreneurial manager capable of offering direction to a team of PMs working on a wide array of Googlettes. You will define Google’s innovation engine and grow the leaders of our next generation of businesses.

Georges Harik, who is now an advisor for Google Ventures, was a former director of the Googlettes:

As director of Googlettes, his team was responsible for the product management and strategy efforts surrounding many nascent Google initiatives including Gmail, Google Talk, Google Video, Picasa, Orkut, Google Groups and Google Mobile.

At the time, I riffed on this idea a little and imagined Google spinning out these businesses as a confederation of stand-alone companies:

Instead of generating ideas and people for internal use, what if they’re incubating start-ups to spin off into companies of their own? Fast forward five years and instead of being a big huge company, Google is a big huge company at the center of a network of 10-20 large to medium-sized companies with similar goals, values, and business practices. Most of these spin-offs would be engaged in businesses similar (and probably complementary) to each other and the Google Mother Ship, some of them maybe even directly competing with each other.

In hindsight, Alphabet is a much better name than Google Mother Ship.

The A-to-Z of dance

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2014

Super-cool video from i-D of dance styles for each letter of the alphabet.

(via @Han)

Custom alphabets

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2011

I love this C from Lettercult’s AlphaBattle.

C Is For

(via letterology)

The last name effect

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 02, 2011

People whose surnames begin with the first few letters of the alphabet (A-I) seem to react differently to certain situations than those whose surnames begin with the letters at the end of the alphabet (R-Z). Slate reports.

E-mails were sent out to adults offering them $500 to participate in a survey. Average response time was between six and seven hours. The same negative correlation between response time and alphabetic rank was observed, but only when the researchers looked at the names the respondents were born with. When Carlson and Conard looked at married names or names changed for some other reason, the correlation dwindled to insignificance. This, they conclude, demonstrates that the “last name effect” derives from “a childhood response tendency.” Only people who grew up with a name at the back of the alphabet demonstrated truly Pavlovian responses to the $500 offer.

See also the birth-month soccer anomaly.

A B Sea

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2010

A B Sea

That’s from a lovely poster that James Mattison made for his daughter.

The theme and title of the piece was ‘Learn your A-B-Sea’ and took the format of an alphabet chart illustrated with fish and sea creatures that could be found in the local stretch of water, the Arabian Gulf.

(via @h_fj)

Star Wars A to Z

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2008

A set of nicely illustrated Star Wars ABC cards. A is for Ackbar, S is for Sarlacc, etc.

If you need to read any literature

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2006

If you need to read any literature from Krypton (Superman’s home planet), here’s the 118 letter alphabet you’ll need to know.

The politically incorrect alphabet. A is for

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 18, 2006

The politically incorrect alphabet. A is for abortion, B is for bomb, C is for cigarettes…

“Why do the letters of the alphabet

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2006

Why do the letters of the alphabet occur in the particular order that they do?

Design critique of the alphabet

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2005

Design critique of the alphabet. “Puhleez! The capital I without the crossbars top and bottom is either the laziest piece of design in history, or an elegant stroke of modernism. With the crossbars it’s just clunky, boring and awkward. The lowercase i is kind of cute with that little dot, I suppose, but I’m not really buying it. This one should have never made it out of the comp stage.”