Early Reports Of Web-Safe Font “Sickness”

Feb 16, 2010

In an email today, Garrick Van Buren of the font services site Kernest wrote something that startled me:

I’m starting to have a visceral reaction to conventional fonts on websites.

Me, too. I wrote back.

Of course Garrick and I aren’t typical. We are both people who have spent a lot of time working with @font-face and looking at fonts other than the handful of web safe fonts that are still, today, the foundation of typography on the web.

But it brought to my mind a scene from a movie – the sixties post-apocalyptic masterpiece, “On The Beach” – which chronicles the final days of the crew of a nuclear submarine in the wake of a massive nuclear exchange. Towards the end, a doctor on an island in the South Pacific – far away from the bulk of the fallout that has already killed most of humanity – diagnoses the island’s first case of radiation sickness. When someone questions if it could just be food poisoning he says, “We’re human beings, not machines. We don’t fall down in rows, you know.”



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