We all have little areas of interest which we find vastly more fascinating
than most people, and typography is one of mine (as anyone who’s watched me
on about smart quotes can attest). Thus, an article about the
shameful origin of Arial
is right up my alley.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a permanent address available for the
article yet, so I’ll either have to check back eventually or just let the link
rot. Sadly, it’s easy to guess which is more likely. I have a dream that one day
people will understand the need for giving things permanent addresses right
from the start, and not just when they’re “archived”. I didn’t say it was an
earth-shakingly important dream.
I watch The Powerpuff Girls occasionally, although
their high-pitched voices tend to grate after more than a half-hour
or so. (One of the reasons I tend to take certain anime only in
small doses.) Despite that, they have a feature-length film coming
out which is undoubtedly the inspiration for this article
discussing, among other things, their
significance to feminism.
The Powerpuff Girls themselves, as the article notes, don’t discuss
feminism very often, they just assume sexual equality and go from there.
I’ve always felt that this is the best—or at least the least irritating—way
to deal with the subject. Most television programs dealing with
feminism tend to resort to heavy-handed speeches, exaggerating problems
and attitudes so that the audience is guaranteed to understand that
Sexism Is Bad. By sidestepping the issue entirely, the Powerpuff Girls
present a world where young girls with superpowers are free to mangle
the forces of evil without a lot of “You cannot defeat me! You are
just girls!” The article points out that this attitude
is not limited to the Powerpuff Girls themselves, asking:
a new generation of gender-blind Powerpuffs conquer inequality
simply by optimistically refusing to recognize its existence? For many
girls today, this approach seems to work. They don’t cry out against
inequality; they simply take for granted that the world will treat them
fairly—and in some cases the world seems to follow suit. “Of course I
should be able to play football, or wrestle,” they tell us nonchalantly,
as if suggesting otherwise is downright absurd—and it is, isn’t it?
Internet governance is not an exciting-sounding topic, but it is an
important one. The great advantage of the Internet is its decentralization.
Tim Berners-Lee, for example, was able to create the World Wide Web without
needing permission or coordination from some Internet authority. The fact that
it’s ubiquitous today is solely because other people started using it and
saw that it was good.
There are areas that cannot be decentralized entirely, and giving out
unique identifiers is one of them. The domain name system
is one of those things, and there are concerns that corporate interests
are dominating its governance these days. While I don’t buy the
suggestion that this corporate control spells the end of Internet
innovation or that free-thinkers should head to other pastures
(if it ever became that bad, people would be free to create new
top-level domains through additional
root servers), I am
worried by the secrecy and inefficiency of
the organization in charge of the system.
In an interview, John Gilmore explains the
(You may remember Mr Gilmore from his argument
against digital rights management last year.) Among other things,
is currently refusing to show its financial records to members of its own
board of directors. This is not the behavior you want from an organization
which maintains a public trust.
The future of ICANN
is, in some ways, the future of the net. I, for one, would rather
break it up
than lose public oversight. Certainly, it’s something to keep an eye on.