How Does Your Penmanship Compare with BIC's Universal Typeface?

BIC, more famous for making ballpoint pens than computer fonts, is developing a "universal typeface" created by averaging the penmanship of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. 

What's the Latest?

BIC, more famous for making ballpoint pens than computer fonts, is developing a "universal typeface." A new website launched by the company allows visitors to contribute to the project by providing examples of how they form the 26 letters of the alphabet. The universal typeface is then created based on the averages of all the cumulative writing samples. So far, about 32,000 people around the world have contributed nearly 830,000 characters to the site. Results are searchable by gender, age, handedness, country, and employment.

What's the Big Idea?

Aside from the fact that this is a very cool idea, the universal typeface also offers a fascinating glimpse into the differences in the ways different people write. Whether there's a socio- or psychological conclusion to be made, I'll leave to others. For now, it's just neat to see that Austrians tend to place a tail on the notch of the capital 'G' while Brazilians tend not to (though the varying ways to draw a 'G' may contribute to the averages being a little wonky). Today's World Cup match between Belgium and Argentina is a battle between skinny- and fat-drawn S's.

Of course, the experiment is not without flaws. Despite its insistence on amalgamating penmanship, website visitors draw the letters either through touchscreen or via their mouse -- obviously not processes conducive to the sort of results we'd hope for. The demographic details are also provided by the site's visitors meaning it's less than scientific (unless an inordinate amount of Antarcticans have contributed). Still, I suggest visiting the site and getting lost in the always fascinating (to me at least) minutia of language.

Contribute to the Universal Typeface project here.

Read more at WIRED

Photo credit: Arman Zhenikeyev / Shutterstock

California wildfires death toll climbs to 50

Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
  • 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
  • On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
Keep reading Show less

Too much sleep results in cognitive decline, researchers find

We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.

Photo: Vladislav Muslakvo / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
  • Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
  • Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less