Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Don Knuth Q&A

Don Knuth visited Google in March. He had no prepared notes, instead answering a series of questions from the audience. The video of the talk posted to YouTube the next day.

My favorite answer was about digital typography, despite being personally unable to distinguish much beyond monospace and proportional fonts. I think the answer is very revealing of character.

Q:You are famously known for your interest in (and contributions to) digital typography. Over 30 years after the release of TeX, what are your thoughts on the current state of typography as it exists on the web and other digital media?
A:I’m upbeat about [it]. I got a Nexus S and it has beautiful fonts on it. I love the typography that I’m seeing. I think that people are starting to understand fonts. I’m famously bad at predicting. The fact that I can’t predict how hard something is is the only reason I started working on typography in the first place, and Art of Computer Programming and a bunch of other stuff, but I did predict that font designers would become heroes, and that turned out to be fairly close to the mark.