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Type Research Diary Part V

A week later, I am sitting at home, sifting through about ten hours worth of interviews. Turns out my interviewees have a lot to say on topics I'm interested in.

First off, let me disappoint you: anyone expecting graphic prejudice or explicitly stated dislike of Arabs on principle here will only find some general opinions that are held by society, but I am glad to be able to report at this point that even three years of Islamic Studies do not induce fear or hatered in those that study it. In stead, we are faced with a broad variety of views in different hues of gray.

Bear in mind also that the object of this research is not to examine opinions about Arab society in all its depth. Center stage: language and writing, combinations of Latin and Arabic type and the amazing Branding Question. Of course, to get there, the culture those symbols represent should not be neglected. Without a background, these symbols are just that. Heiroglyphs that might as well be left alone if not for an active interest in history.

The background is, for now, that strip of land from the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediteranean, past the Red Sea and up at the Gulf of Aden. These countries use, to varying degrees, the arabic language and script for their daily communications.

Some of these countries are constantly present to us, represented by people in galabeyyas, shadors and other items of sun-proof headgear. They are usually negotiating, or shouting about something angrily, burning up things that disturb them, talking about films, producing music in over three hundred chords of sadness or fighting. Pretty much like everybody else, then.

It also has a well- rooted calligraphic tradition which begins with reed pens, passes on to lead type via the pen before finally ending up on the internet. There, as in the real world, we demand of it to represent a global culture, in addition to the people who use it in their daily communications.

Ten hours of interviews make for a lot of listening.


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