i was actuall thinking about this recently, but eben put it very succintly when he wrote:
At one point I was trying to convince Hrant that if the caligraphic quality found in dutch type could be married to a carefully made set of conditional substitutes in open type font, then an opportunity for a better interletter spacing or ‘notan’ could be reached - similar to what a latin caligrapher naturally would do. Or what arabic & chinese/japanese caligraphers do. What made me think about it was the way in which japanese/chinese charcters have to be written out. Each of the complex characters is made of an accumulation of simpler parts. A bit like a word is made with letters but arranged with more freedom of relative placement. When a kanji/character is written it is made *very* contextually. When I look at your logo work I see a lot of that contextual sensitivity. That is one of the things that deeply impressed me about your work. So far I don’t think Hrant agrees with my ‘more caligraphic’ idea - for long texts anyway. I think that he thinks that the best inter letter spacing and legibility will be achived not by a bigger set of conditional shapes but instead by better ‘notanic’ design of the glyphs and the spaces between them. typophile thread software developer
I tend to agree with Eben. I mean some letter combinations are just nightmares. For example, "ra" can leave a big hole in the middle of the word. (or is that just in poorly designed faces?) wouldn't text benefit overall if you had contextual alternates or ligatures that took into account the notion of notan? Comments please!