First of all, I didn’t really invent the term “bouma”: it’s adapted from the term “Bouma-shape” used by Saenger in his “Space between words”; he in turn claims to have taken it from the work of Taylor & Taylor (although I myself have yet to ﬁnd any such term used by them), and is based on the Dutch psychologist Herman Bouma who formalized empirical research into word-shape-based reading. Professor Bouma himself had never heard of the term (a friend of mine asked him). The only things I can take credit for is making it convenient (a single lc word), and spreading it. BTW, there are a number of reasons I like “bouma”: I think it’s euphonic, hence memorable; it doesn’t sound like a German lobotomy clinic; and we need a fresh start.
(BTW, I deﬁnitely didn’t invent “bicameral”. I think I got it from some online discussion years ago. Maybe it’s not good, but at least it doesn’t sound provincial like “two-storied”…)
As for being ahead of its time, I think maybe it’s just the opposite: the way in which the bouma concept can be most useful is in countering what I call the Familiarity Escape Clause, which has risen to prominence in the last 15 years, and which so many designers use to avoid *thinking*. It promotes the consideration of the “subvisible” issues in typography, which laymen cannot appreciate through conscious observation, but are signiﬁcantly aﬀected by nonetheless.
It can also be useful in two very tangible ways:
1. Reﬁning conventional type design, speciﬁcally by making x-heights smaller, spacing tighter, etc.
2. Motivating alphabet reform, or at least some formal thinking about the alphabet, like in moving away from the cloying world of calligraphic type.
The ﬁrst one is not at all “revolutionary”, and the second one might be more “evolutionary”: we should realize that we need to design words (or more accurately letter-strings) primarily, and individual letters only secondarily. Anyway, thanks Martin, and keep your eyes open for an upcoming article in tipoGraphica magazine (and its eventual online version in English).