There’s a new “Links” sub-section at the bottom of the Subtraction.com home page, which is more or less what you would expect: literally, a list of sites that I think are interesting. I haven’t had it before, in part because I think such lists are a little show-offy for my taste, and also because I always feared I’d snub someone by inadvertently leaving out a link to them. But, as time has gone by, I’ve come to feel that such lists are de rigeur for weblogs, and it’s a little impolite not to have one on mine. So here you go; I’m sure I’ve accidentally missed someone, but I’ll be trying to update this regularly — or soon, anyway.
The presentation style of these links is the manifestation of an idea that I had for showing lots of blog links by making use of the favicon, a concept that I had wanted to use for a project at work. As it turned out, we opted not to use it, so I thought I’d put into service for the links section. I’m fond of it because it’s a nice use of some very standardista-friendly elements — a simple, unordered list and favicons — expressed in a manner reminiscent of typographical tricks more commonly associated with print design (the drawback, of course, is that I can only list sites and feeds that feature unique favicons; not for technical reasons, but for editorial ones).
Below: Linky link. Favicons as visual punctuation.
It even works in Internet Explorer, though I had to replace all the regular spaces with non-breaking space entities in order to avoid some truly weird wrapping. Debugging that got me thinking about how poor is our control over line breaks and text wrapping in CSS 2: if you look down the left edge of the links display, you’ll see a vertical stack of favicons, a visual confluence that I really don’t much care for. That never would have happened in print; I would have used manually line-breaks, tracking and kerning to create a more varied distribution of the icons.
Luckily, the next major revision of the Cascading Style Sheets standard, CSS 3, will generally improve control over text wrapping. The ‘text-wrap’ property will allow CSS authors to determine whether a line of text can or will break. And the ‘hyphenate’ and ‘word-wrap’ properties will control how words themselves break, which, hopefully, will allow designers to finally start designing the rag of flushed left or right text. Finally!
For all its benefits, the typesetting limitations in CSS 2 have become so well ingrained that I think a lot of people have forgotten that we’re still in a primitive state of typesetting — if our tools don’t allow us to control line and word breaks or the rag of a block of text, then we’re still working beneath our capabilities as visual communicators. If you can’t tell, I’m kind of champing at the bit to get these new properties. Why a browser like Safari doesn’t yet support them while supporting far more superfluous text effects like CSS-generated text shadows seems to me like a case of confused priorities.