ch 7. type


The word “type” is both a noun and a verb. When I think of type as a noun, I think of Tekton, the font. Type lives as a verb as the second word in FTC – fear, type, and copy. If you can’t type, you can’t sell to Steve.

Steve loved Tekton, it was his favorite font, by far. Architectural in nature, Tekton was rumored to be created by a crazed drafter whose handwritten, obsessively precise lettering was digitized – transmorphed into a magic font. That was the legend.

Imagine your hand lettering being good enough to be immortalized by Adobe. That’s what happened to world-renowned architect and professor emeritus Frank Ching, whose genius will live forever, embodied in the Tekton font. In 1989, Tekton joined the Adobe Original font roster, the maximum recognition.

Like a favorite comfort food, Tekton just feels right.

Steve and I spoke about adding Tekton to the base 13 fonts shipped with every copy of Adobe PostScript and thus with the NeXTSTEP OS operating system. If NeXT had stayed intact longer and Steve had not gone back to Apple, we would have negotiated some agreement to do so. It just seemed meant to be.

But it wasn’t. Fate intervened, but I do not think it even quelled Steve’s love of this great font.

But enough about type the noun, how about type the verb? Why learn to type? What’s so important about it?

The current layout of the world’s english keyboards, known universally as the QWERTY keyboard, did not exist until the 1870s. It moved with us to the tech world through sheer inertia and utility.

The interface might change in the coming decades or centuries, but for the near term, the keyboard rules.

Typists are code pianists, hitting every key at the right time at the right cadence and speed without once looking at the keys.

This becomes even more important as primitive text editors like vi and emacs come back into vogue. Code is code, and computer languages are nothing initially but letters and numbers, keyboard inputs into a typewriter like device.

There’s nothing demeaning about typing. You don’t need to type to sell meat door-to-door. But when you are selling high concept, high value, complex goods, you must communicate in the most effective medium available and more often than not, it’s written or typed.

The reality is, your degree of facility typing will vary, but your willingness to type, to do what’s necessary should never waver. I’ve met too many people who rely on others to perform office basics. They refuse to get their hands dirty, thinking that staying clean is to their advantage. This is to their detriment. Steve (and most of your clients) appreciate someone who is willing to do what needs to be done.

In the late 20th century, Japanese culture and aesthetics became revered. The Quality Circles movement and kanban on the manufacturing line rose in the 1980’s as companies in the US tried to match Japanese quality. Parts of Quality Circles, kanban, and the like have resurrected in part, as the agile movement.

Agile is paleo, and typing plays into the movement. Typewriters have gone the way of mechanical pianos; but the language, the input, the methodology, remain.

Typing, or input, is the first step in machine learning, the interface to the enterprise. Though typewriters no longer rule the earth, the QWERTY interface does, at least through the start of the 21st century.

Steve extended the utility and the value of knowing how to type – he and Xerox Parc’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) never replaced typing, in fact, it might have enhanced it.

If you can’t type something up, put it together and present it, what value do you add to Steve? Or any of your clients?

Your fingers are extensions of your thought process. They should bounce with authority off an abused keyboard for effect! Being able to compose messages on the fly matters selling to Steve.

If you can’t type, how can you sell ? How can you respond to email at 2am in the morning? With voice? As things advance it will make sense, but for today, odds are you will need to input something with a keyboard. Learn how to use the interface effectively

Language matters. As does expression. Present a point of view. Present your point of view.

That’s what I did when I spent an  hour with Steve one-on-one.

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