Quiet. Too quiet.

July 3, 2002

Faux font

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 go 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. (via Zeldman) #

Whoopass girls

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:

Can 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?

Well, yeah. #

ICANN be crooked

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 ICANN, the organization in charge of the system.

In an interview, John Gilmore explains the problems with ICANN. (You may remember Mr Gilmore from his argument against digital rights management last year.) Among other things, ICANN 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. #