Three’s The Website Charm

One of the perks of my job specifically and the interwebs more generally is that I get to seek out, muse over, discuss, and then write about brilliant, off-the-wall, quirky, and fun concepts. That job admittedly comes with a veritably enormous amount of envy. How, I often wonder, do people come up with such insightful, useful, or entertainingly useless goodness? And why, I wonder more, won’t my brain work the same way?

LifenPublishing is my go-to blog on days when working in the publishing industry wears me down. Nothing sums up or skewers the head-to-wall buttingness of the industry like this blog does (and nothing sums up my daily efforts like this cupcake-related entry).

Just in case we weren’t sure the blog had its finger on every industry pulse, my friend and fellow editor Judi showed me the other day that LifenPublishing completed a salary survey. It makes for bleak but necessary reading; I recommend having chocolate at hand when you click on that link.

But that’s not the reason I’m blogging. This is actually a good-news post, with three sites popping up on my radar this weekend (and so now on yours). And yes, I’ve saved the best for last.

Three-Hundred and Sixty Five

The first site seems now static, having finished its 365-day project. That said, that’s ok; the blog’s probably best enjoyed retrospectively as a whole (even if I am itching to switch around the placement of that hyphen in its title). It’s a Tumblr ‘celebrating the beauty of the ampersand’, the squiggly line I can’t for the life of me draw freehand but that’s a handy shortcut for linking things together. And frankly, its good use of white space and typography is something I could stare at all day long.

Taken on its own, the ampersand-themed site is art. Delved a little deeper and it’s an adventure in discovering font types beyond those we find ourselves returning to out of habit or because of organisational style dictates (don’t get me started on how one client’s restricted colour palette has made me fall out of love with teal). And who knew there could be so many interpretations of the humble ampersand? The mind boggles.

MailBooks For Good

The second site benefits an organisation I’m involved with (The Footpath Library), although it should be noted that the first I knew of the whole thing was the same time everyone else did: when I got the Google Alert. MailBooks For Good is best explained via the two-minute video on its site, but it in essence involves a dustcover that can be turned inside out to form a pre-paid envelope pre-addressed to a charity that promotes literacy.

The thinking is that once you’ve read a book, you send it on to give it a second life and to benefit those who might need it more than the dust mites on your bookshelf do. I might be troubled by the single ‘MailBooks’ word (I think it should be two), but I am impressed that someone’s finally come up with a use for a pesky dustcover (a crazy design I think is long past its use-by date as a form).

The Tutor Crowd

The third site involves a savvy UK-based tutoring school having found a clever, clever way of both correcting rubbish graffiti grammar and branding their work in an innovative, memorable way.

Their tagline explains the premise succinctly:

English tuition doesn’t have to be stuffy, boring and expensive. At The Tutor Crowd we’re taking the classroom to the streets, correcting London’s graffiti to spread our message.

The Tutor Crowd amend London graffiti to ensure correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar, affix one of their brilliantly designed stickers—which promote a free English tutoring trial—next to said graffiti, then snap a pic and post it on its Tumblr so the rest of us can teehee.

The simple, date- and location-tagged Tumblr demonstrates the org’s community service. They change the likes of ‘cheep date’ to ‘cheap date’, ‘so hot rite now’ to ‘so hot right now’, and ‘dolla dolla bill yo’ to ‘dollar dollar bill yo’.

Warning: I’ve mentioned some of the tamer entries. There are some rudie ones by pure virtue of the fact that graffiti is often gratuitously graphic. Still, nothing neutralises an intended insult and amuses the rest of us like a good, grammar-correcting culture jam.

As my friend Steph Jong, a graphic designer with a canny eye for good design and good grammar, said: ‘Knowing there’s a movement like this helps me sleep at night. Like, seriously.’

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.