Internet gems

One of the things I love about the Internet is the way it lets people share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of their own niche subjects. Subjects that you may never have given a second (or even a first) thought to but when you discover them are a delight.

Here are some examples:

The Daily Drop Cap: an ongoing project by typographer and illustrator Jessica Hische.

Each day (or at least each WORK day), a new hand-crafted decorative initial cap (see example above) for your enjoyment and for the beautification of blog posts everywhere”.

Three-hundred and sixty five ampersands: a blog celebrating the beauty of the ampersand, one is posted each day.

Two Nerdy History Girls. By Loretta Chase (writes historical romance) and Susan Holloway Scott (historical novels). Their blog is about:

the everyday details of life. We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them”.

Typography for Lawyers. This to me was perhaps the most surprising find of all. Lawyers and Typography? Not two words I’d have expected to see in the same sentence, far less in a dedicated website. Just goes to show how unimaginative I am. The site was created by Matthew Butterick, an attorney in Los Angeles whose CV also includes an art degree, digital font design and website development. Here are his thoughts on typography in the legal profession:

Even though the legal profession depends heavily on writing, legal typography is often poor. Some blame lies with the strict typographic constraints that control certain legal documents […]. But the rest of the blame lies with lawyers. […] I assume this is for lack of information, not lack of will.[…] There are numerous guides on typography for generalists but none specifically aimed at lawyers. So as one of the few typographers-turned-attorneys in America (yes, there are others), I figure that if I don’t do it, nobody will”.

I was amazed to discover from Matthew’s website that the US states all have their own typography and layout rules, and that within each state the rules may vary from one type of court (Appellate, Civil, Circuit, Federal etc) to another. How complicated is that?!

Etegami Notebook. A blog by Deborah Davidson, an Etegami artist and fellow translator (Japanese to English), who describes Etegami thus:

Etegami (e= “picture”; tegami= “letter/message”) are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words, and they are usually done on postcards so that they can be easily mailed off to one’s friends. Though etegami has few hard-and-fast rules, traditional tools and materials include writing brushes, sumi ink for the outline, gansai blocks for color, and soft absorbent washi postcards. They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life, especially items that bring a particular season to mind”.

Deborah’s drawings are so lovely and so diverse. They really do show the beauty in everyday things.

Floating Along in the World of Japanese Prints. Another Japan-related blog, this time by Gina Collia-Suzuki. Gina describes herself as a “Frightfully serious art historian & incredibly silly novelist”. This excerpt from her LinkedIn page maybe explains the sort of enthusiasm/passion for a subject that inspires people to devote so much time to creating such marvellous, inspirational blogs and websites for us all to enjoy:

To say that I am obsessed with Japanese prints would be a great understatement. I live, eat and breathe them. This passionate love affair all began back in 1986, when I was a student. I went on a field trip with a group of fellow students, to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, and saw a Japanese woodblock print for the first time. It was one of Utamaro’s, and it was love at first sight. I immediately bought a copy of Jack Hillier’s Utamaro: Colour Prints & Paintings, and carried it with me everywhere I went from that day forward”.

Gina looks about 18 but attended art school in the 1980s. So she must be a wee bit older than that. More evidence that enthusiasm keeps you young!

I hope you enjoy these sites. If you have any favourites of your own – or if you’ve created your own site or blog dedicated to a subject that you love – share them in the comments!

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Truly some gems here. To my surprise, Nerdy History Girls was a cracker!

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