June 2020 Articles

It’s hard to pull a quote from his essay; read it.

Type Specimens

Mark Boulton ·

Hello! I’m Mark Boulton and this is a project about Type Specimens.

Type specimens are curious objects. They aim to inspire designers. They are tools with which to make design decisions. They are also marketing material for foundries. This project will dig into specimens from these three perspectives: as artefacts made by and for font designers to evolve type culture; as tools for font users to make decisions about choosing and using type; and as effective marketing tools.

Over the decades, typeface specimens have changed from being functional documents – of demonstrating the typeface in use at various different weights and sizes – to objects that primarily sell the typeface. They are designed to sell the typeface in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

This project will bring together a curated stream of type specimens from around the world. Focussed on digital specimens, we’ll also be talking with the designers and users of these typefaces to bring you behind the scenes content on their creation. We’ll hear about the successes. Hopefully the horror stories, too. Everybody loves a good horror story.

Reading in the dark

Cassie ·

I’m writing this for two reasons.

Firstly as a reminder to go easy on myself. Sometimes it’s going to be easy to read, sometimes it’s going to be harder. We can’t expect to always be as productive as our best days. Our productivity doesn’t define our worth.

I’m also writing this for anyone that’s trying to read in dim light at the moment. If you’re battling please don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not your fault. Let yourself put the book down for a while, see if you can get that light on.

Idea Generation

Sam Altman ·

YC once tried an experiment of funding seemingly good founders with no ideas. I think every company in this no-idea track failed. It turns out that good founders have lots of ideas about everything, so if you want to be a founder and can’t get an idea for a company, you should probably work on getting good at idea generation first.

How do you do that?

It’s important to be in the right kind of environment, and around the right kind of people. You want to be around people who have a good feel for the future, will entertain improbable plans, are optimistic, are smart in a creative way, and have a very high idea flux. These sorts of people tend to think without the constraints most people have, not have a lot of filters, and not care too much what other people think.

Something to look for when you’re evaluating a startup: do the founders and leaders have good ideas or did they have one idea that they keep banking on?

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“If you also need design control, then what you need is…

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The world around us doesn’t always make sense. The world around me today doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to me that our leaders in San Diego are lifting restrictions and allowing people to gather in restaurants and on the beach. Soon, San Diegan’s will be able to gather in gyms, hotels, bars, wineries, day camps, bowling alleys, and more.


I understand economic pressure and business pressure. I understand political pressure. I understand the desire to see other people.

In San Diego county, 8,345 people have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of those, 296 people have died.

3.5% of people who have contracted this disease have died.

Do we, as a community, believe this is acceptable?

Most of those who have died, 140, are over the age of 80. Those are parents, grandparents, and loved ones.

I want to see my parents. I want to see my family. I want to see my grandmother.

Today, seeing my family potentially puts them at risk because I could potentially transmit the virus to them. Yes, I can, and plan to, get tested. We all should commit to getting tested regularly to better understand how this virus is propagating through our community and stop its spread when and where it’s found.

For the past 47 days — since April 20th — San Diego county has averaged 128 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Every day.

And the rate of new cases has been remarkably steady.

As of today, 1 in every 400 San Diegan’s has contracted COVID-19.1

This is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. Of the 296 deaths, 124 of them are from Hispanic or Latino communities, 123 deaths are from White communities, 29 are from Asian communities, and 8 are from Black communities.2

We aren’t alone. While San Diego has seen a 25% increase in cases over the past two weeks, the State of California has seen a 36% increase in cases over the same period.3

Of the 50 states in our union, 23 states are seeing a decrease in the number of cases in their state over the past two weeks. Why isn’t California leading the way?4


  • Wear a mask anytime you are out of your house — walking, shopping, and when you’re out of your house.
  • Get tested. Call 2-1-1 and get tested for free at a County testing center.

County Leaders

Please advertise on billboards, online, on the radio, on television, on your Twitter accounts, and anywhere you can that San Diegan’s should wear masks anytime they’re not at home and that they should get tested.

Please lead by example. Wear a mask at your press conferences, in your videos, photos, and in public.

Please consider reimposing restrictions on activity in the County.

We know what it takes to reduce the spread of this virus. Let’s reduce the spread of COVID-19. A steady rate of new cases for the past 47 days should be a striking indicator that the County is not ready to “reopen”.


  1. The US Census Bureau estimates the population of San Diego county as 3,338,330. With 8,345 cases in San Diego, that’s 0.25% of the population, or 1/400.
  2. See the San Diego County COVID-19 Deaths by Demographics
  3. In San Diego county, there were 8,345 cases reported as of June 5th. 14 days prior, on May 23rd, 6,701 cases were reported. In the State of California, 128,137 cases were reported as of June 6th, with 93,883 cases reported as of May 24th.
  4. See the table titled “How is My State Doing on Key Measures?” from CovidExitStrategy.org.

An old essay, from July 2009, that still resonates well.

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.

Chris Payne, whose work I discovered when he went to General Pencil, one of America’s last pencil factories, has just had his work come out on another American industry here in San Diego; shipbuilding. Chris photographed the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) here in San Diego, including a new container and vehicle ship, the Matsonia for Matson which will soon be hauling cargo from the US mainland to Hawaii.

For more of Chris’ work, see his excellent web portfolio.

An important part of this is that there seem to be few real network effects in a video call per se. You don’t necessarily need an account to join a call, and you generally don’t need an application either, especially on the desktop - you just click on a link in your calendar and the call opens in the browser. Indeed, the calendar is often the aggregation layer - you don’t need to know what service the next call uses, just when it is…

Zoom has done a good job of asking why it was hard to get into a call, but hasn’t really asked why you’re in the call in the first place. Why, exactly, are you sending someone a video stream and watching another one? Why am I looking at a grid of little thumbnails of faces? Is that the purpose of this moment?