While seated at ClearLeft in Brighton, I wrote the preface for an upcoming book. The plan was to spend a leisurely June failing to earn money but at least working on something “productive,” the rest of that book.

Instead, I have spent every day working on one of two papers I am to present at ATypI Brighton 2007. Yes, Brighton, the acceptable face of England, and yes, two papers. I believe I am the only person presenting twice – once in the main conference and once in TypeTech. The latter paper concerns testing methods for captioning and subtitling fonts. The paper I have been writing concerns TTC subway typography. In essence, I have written the complete history from the inception of the subway in 1954 to present.

Type in Univers inscribed into a field of circular orange tiles reads 2S 2S

I have completed all but small copy-edits of the paper. It runs 13,000 words, has more than 50 illustrations, and includes over 70 citations. I researched original sources dating back to 1968, including all of Paul Arthur’s files at the ROM. The photos were merely a matter of selection, as I now have roughly 1,000 TTC photos and climbing. (I had to print them out to edit them properly; the GraphicConverter Catalog[ue] feature works well for that.) I carried out many custom photo shoots in the subway. I am not quite a member of the 69-station club yet, but not many people have done both the Views – Bay~ and Downs~ – in the very same week.

Readers who have any interest in the first place will be very surprised at what I have learned. At the most minor level, I believe I know where every sign in Arial is located in the entire system. At a major level, I have thoroughly documented the way TTC has approached signage over the last 15 years. I will publish the paper online after I present at the conference. It will have to stay under lock and key until then.

In a rebuke to the expectations of the type field, the paper is in plain, albeit perfect, HTML, not in InDesign with hanging punctuation and ligatures. I believe I have put orders of magnitude more work into this paper than most ATypI speakers will have put into theirs; mostly those will be giant PDFs exported from Keynote. It doesn’t end here: I have another paper to write, which will not be completed by this week’s deadline, and two presentations to create. (Remember, a paper is not a presentation. That will be news to some co-presenters.)

It’s been an extraordinarily burdensome task, but I brought it on myself. It was my idea. I had spoken at ATypI in 2003, because it was at least possible to fly there affordably. Later conferences, in places like Prague, Helsinki, and Lisbon, cost more to fly to than Sydney does. I am assuming I will make it to Brighton. On another day we can discuss my unduly low profile in typography and why some believe I have no bonafides in (not even “love for”) typography.

I have been viewing this endeavour as a literal academic exercise. I am writing academic papers. I enjoy that, as I am keen on research. But I’m not getting paid for it. I get paid for almost nothing I do, because the prevailing impression, even among people who have never met me, is that I shouldn’t. As far as they’re concerned, the system is functioning as designed if I work for free.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.07.31 15:41. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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