Wednesday, March 09, 2005


OK, so here's what happened: the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) merged with the College of Science and Mathematics (COSM) to form the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Naturally, all the web pages for both colleges had to be updated to reflect the merger. Guidelines were handed out from the web authorities, and a meeting was called for each department to help bring them and their technology into the fold.

At the meeting with the physics department, their webmaster went over the new guidelines with the CAS representative (someone from the old CLA). The CAS rep told them they needed to update any references on their site to COSM, including logos and wordmarks. "Wordmarks? What are those?" asked the webmaster. The way it was told to me, the CAS rep explained that they were images containing words that linked to something. Well, why not just call them "images" or "graphics", I wondered. Why invent a special word for linked images just to complicate things? I mentioned that I had been building web sites professionally since 1998 and had never heard a linked image referred to as a "wordmark."

A couple weeks later, the word came down from on high that all departments had to include the new CAS wordmark on their sites. The wordmark could not be squished down tiny, but had to be within a certain size, and placed in an approved place on the page. When I heard about this, I went to the physics site to see what an actual wordmark looked like. I saw that it was a graphic, a logo-looking thing containing only type. The Powers that Be were certainly treating it like a logo, why not just call it a logo?

I am not a formally-educated graphic designer. I am a poser with an AA in Multimedia and a BA in Religion who hung out with a lot of actual graphic designers while I attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. As a result, I do not always know the correct graphic designer terminology for everything, especially anything that has to do with print work. So I asked the smart folks at Hiveminds if they'd ever heard of a wordmark. Here's that conversation. I decided that it was an academic affectation I didn't need to bother with.

But then, just the other day, Jon at Veer used "wordmark" in context in this blog post about a sign mishap. The people at Veer are actual, professional graphic designers, totally immersed in the designer culture. I guess if they believe that "wordmark" is a valid word, then I have to concede that it is, at least within the context of discussing design.

However, I still maintain that it's not in the dictionary and should therefore not be used in conversations with laypeople.
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Friday, March 04, 2005

Roy's Call to Action 

There's an interesting article in the Daily Gamecock about students raising awareness for the homeless. It mentions a homeless man named Roy Gleiter who makes hemp jewelry and gives it away to passersby, asking only a promise in return for each piece:
The first piece comes with the promise to help five homeless people and tell them that a homeless man told you to do it.

The second piece comes with the promise to help five people, and ask them to help five homeless people.

The third piece comes with the promise to help five children and ask them to help five homeless people.

The fourth piece comes with the promise to help five people you do not know, and the fifth promise is that whenever you come into contact with members of the media or Legislature, recipients tell them that they support homeless and poverty rights.
So, how can we answer Roy's call to action? Perhaps a good place to start is the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, as mentioned in the article.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

101 Ways to Say "Happy Birthday" 

The folks at Unhappy Birthday are bringing attention to something that has bothered me for a while: the fact that the song "Happy Birthday" is copyrighted out the wazoo, and is technically illegal to perform in public.

I've often thought that someone ought to come up with a replacement for Happy Birthday. After all, a copyrighted work won't make much money for its owners if nobody is using it. As a proof of concept, I looked up some public domain songs online, picked a few familiar ones, and turned them into birthday songs. Why use existing melodies instead of writing my own? Because a lot of these songs are already well known, and it's easier to learn new words to a familiar tune than to learn a whole new song from scratch. Plus, these melodies have stood the test of time as being catchy and singable. Plus, I am lazy.

Here are my sample new birthday songs, which I have released to the public domain. As you can tell from listening to them, I am not a professional singer. But what good is a Happy Birthday replacement if anyone can't just bust it out, with no accompaniment? I'm singing to George, my husband, in these examples because his birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks.

Happy Birthday (Oh Susanna)
Public Domain Dedication
This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.

Happy Birthday (Go Down Moses)
Public Domain Dedication
This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.

Happy Birthday (Polly Wolly Doodle)
Public Domain Dedication
This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.

Don't like these? Make your own! If you come up with a good one, let me know. I'd like to hear it.
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