Machine Tags for Type

When learning about type, specimens and showings are essential. But sometimes the true personality of a face isn’t revealed until you see it in action. That’s why each typeface page on Typedia has a section called “In the Wild” placed prominently at the top of the second column. Here you’ll find examples of graphic design using the typeface in question, whether it’s on a sign, in a magazine, or part of an illustration. The goal is to shed light on how type really works—by seeing it at work.

Well, that’s the goal at least. Yet you’ve probably noticed that many entries either don’t have imagery or the images that do appear seem unrelated to the typeface in question. You’re not crazy. Typedia is casting a pretty wide net when it wades through Flickr for examples of a typeface, and the results are often less than optimal. We’re working on making smarter use of the Flickr API to do this, but this will also depend on smarter tagging of photos, namely by people making use of machine tags.

A machine tag is just like the plain old Flickr tag you’re used to, but it has a special syntax that defines additional structured data about the tag. By using machine tags Typedia’s image collecting can be much more precise. It’s like using a spear to catch exactly which fish you want, instead of sweeping everything up with a giant trawl.

Working with the folks at Flickr and smart gents like Tom Coates, we’ve defined a set of machine tags that will specify a good chunk of the information about the type in an image. Even if the minimum you feel comfortable tagging a photo with is the “face” machine tag, it will go a long way towards making Typedia more useful. Here’s the syntax for tagging a typeface, style, foundry, and designer:

Typeface

type:face=helvetica

Style

type:style=bold
type:style=italic
type:style="bold italic"

Foundry

type:foundry=haas
type:foundry=linotype

Designer

type:designer="max miedinger"

For a name with a space, use quotes or no space at all. Both will work the same.

Of course, these special typeface tags are new and there are very few Flickr images that are blessed with them. But we’re not worried. Just like the rest of the site, “In the Wild” will only be as good as Typedia’s members. And we’ve got some damn fine members.

So the next time you see a some nice type on a café menu, don’t just drool on it. Shoot it and tag it!

Got a pic but not sure what font was used? Add it to the Typeface Identification pool or submit it to Typophile’s Type ID Board where requests are famously answered within minutes.

  • 1. Luke Dorny’s avatar Luke Dorny Sep 30, 2009

    YAY!

  • 2. Stephen Coles’s avatar Stephen Coles Sep 30, 2009

    Yay indeed. Thanks to the volunteer devs behind Typedia for making this happen. You should start seeing images with machine tags appear on Typedia pages very soon.

  • 3. Joe Clark’s avatar Joe Clark Sep 30, 2009

    Machine tags now added to over 1,000 of my photos. Note: I am using <code>type:weight=</code> where needed.

    As I’ve explained previously, any of my contacts can search for any tag containing a typeface name or ending in <code>font</code> and add machine tags (via automated means if desired).

  • 4. Joe Clark’s avatar Joe Clark Oct 01, 2009

    I have now machine-tagged essentially all my type photos – in the low thousands. I am also using classification= e.g. monospaced|blackletter|grotesk and width= e.g. condensed.

    So I guess the last five years of typesnapping have come in handy after all. Or they may come in handy eventually. I was beginning to wonder why I bothered.

  • 5. Stephen Coles’s avatar Stephen Coles Oct 02, 2009

    We are honored to have access to the coveted Joe Clark archives.

  • 6. zeldman’s avatar zeldman Oct 08, 2009

    Hurrah!

Comments are closed on this entry.

Subscribe for Updates

Blog RSS feed

Recent Entries

Categories

Archived Entries

2014
Jan
2013
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
2012
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2011
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2010
Jan
Feb
Apr
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2009
May
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec