Book Review: Goodbye Gutenberg

Cool, wonderful weekend.

Bought a new book, called Goodbye Gutenberg about using color and design and typography as a teaching tool, and as a way of breaking free from traditional Gutenberg-style typesetting. It’s beautiful and elegant — but the text is crappy, and it doesn’t contain very many actual examples that one could use immediately. Her Raven and other colorized Edgar Allen Poe pieces are cool-looking, and I can see them making a great hit in class. So is her Canterbury Tales. But it doesn’t change the fact that most of her pages are beautiful, but that they distract from the text itself.

Doing testing at school all morning. More later.

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16 comments

  1. Re: And the other thing is…

    If you ever get a chance, take a look at Gestalt principles.

    They use shape, position, size and a bunch of other “perceptual tricks” to really get points across succinctly.

  2. Re: And the other thing is…

    Well, you and I are already at least somewhat familiar with that sort of thing through gaming, though I’m guessing most game books (even the prettier ones, like D&D 3.x, or the gorgeous upcoming Weapons of the Gods) don’t pursue the idea to that extent.

  3. Re: On the other hand…

    Yeah, grant money!

    There’s also the cool possibility that I can put together half-a-dozen mini books with illustrations and color to use in my classrooms over the next couple of months and years. It would be nice to teach my students about things like book illumination by giving them their own book to color and code according to their own plans and desires.

    And I wouldn’t have had some of these ideas without having seen her book.

  4. And the other thing is…

    And the other thing is, just because her content is tedious (as she herself pretty much admits) the idea is splendid. Medieval authors and classical authors used color and illustration to encode information; it was used to explain decision trees in medicine and law, to serve as visual clues to the text, and to serve as abstracts to the content. She’s arguing for using color and illustration (already pretty cheap technologies — most color coffee table books don’t cost THAT much more than hardcover novels) to empower reading as an activity capable of challenging the current dominance of video, gaming, and Internet.

    It’s an interesting idea, and the visuals of her book demonstrate that it might be quite powerful. The fact that she also designed her own typeface in six different weights for the book demonstrate that being a writer and a designer should not be mutually exclusive talents.

  5. Re: On the other hand…

    You derived the principles from observing the design, then? ^_^

    Anything that leads to grant money is necessarily good!

  6. On the other hand…

    I’ve already learned something incredibly useful from the book. Color printing is relatively cheap, even from my computer. So I can type up this memo about bringing audio and video technology into my classroom, and I’m color-coding it by the kinds of intelligences and learning-disabilities that my students have. So visual learners get coded brown, auditory learners get coded blue, tactile learners get coded purple, and other learning-disabilities get coded a dark yellow.

    It’s going to look very, very cool. And we’re going to get lots of grant money.

    • On the other hand…

      I’ve already learned something incredibly useful from the book. Color printing is relatively cheap, even from my computer. So I can type up this memo about bringing audio and video technology into my classroom, and I’m color-coding it by the kinds of intelligences and learning-disabilities that my students have. So visual learners get coded brown, auditory learners get coded blue, tactile learners get coded purple, and other learning-disabilities get coded a dark yellow.

      It’s going to look very, very cool. And we’re going to get lots of grant money.

      • Re: On the other hand…

        You derived the principles from observing the design, then? ^_^

        Anything that leads to grant money is necessarily good!

        • Re: On the other hand…

          Yeah, grant money!

          There’s also the cool possibility that I can put together half-a-dozen mini books with illustrations and color to use in my classrooms over the next couple of months and years. It would be nice to teach my students about things like book illumination by giving them their own book to color and code according to their own plans and desires.

          And I wouldn’t have had some of these ideas without having seen her book.

    • And the other thing is…

      And the other thing is, just because her content is tedious (as she herself pretty much admits) the idea is splendid. Medieval authors and classical authors used color and illustration to encode information; it was used to explain decision trees in medicine and law, to serve as visual clues to the text, and to serve as abstracts to the content. She’s arguing for using color and illustration (already pretty cheap technologies — most color coffee table books don’t cost THAT much more than hardcover novels) to empower reading as an activity capable of challenging the current dominance of video, gaming, and Internet.

      It’s an interesting idea, and the visuals of her book demonstrate that it might be quite powerful. The fact that she also designed her own typeface in six different weights for the book demonstrate that being a writer and a designer should not be mutually exclusive talents.

      • Re: And the other thing is…

        Well, you and I are already at least somewhat familiar with that sort of thing through gaming, though I’m guessing most game books (even the prettier ones, like D&D 3.x, or the gorgeous upcoming Weapons of the Gods) don’t pursue the idea to that extent.

      • Re: And the other thing is…

        If you ever get a chance, take a look at Gestalt principles.

        They use shape, position, size and a bunch of other “perceptual tricks” to really get points across succinctly.

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