Everyone is talking about the new Google font. It’s not surprising, as the search engine giant has achieved another small technological miracle.
But what about the tofu?
You may have noticed during your past and present daily browsing activities, that when you go to a website, some text characters may not be displayed correctly. Instead, small white blocks appear in their place. In Asian internet slang, these blocks are called “tofu.”
Google has thought to eliminate the problem, by creating a single font that could support any language script on Earth. After five years of hard work, they have released Noto, which is short for “No more tofu.”
“Noto will be used to preserve the history and culture of rare languages through digitization,” said the people who worked on the project.
Google didn’t just work on the font by themselves. They enlisted the help of software heavyweight Adobe, and of the company Monotype, responsible for creating fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman.
Volunteers from every part of the world helped with the project, by providing information and feedback to the developers. Monotype engineers went as far as talking to Tibetan monks, just to make sure they get every character in their language right.
From Arabic to Indian scripts of various dialects spoken only in obscure parts of the world, there isn’t anything in the Unicode standard that the new Google font does not support. Noto is released as open-source (which means it’s free) and will be regularly updated when new entries in the Unicode are made.
Right now, Noto is said to support 800 languages and 100 written scripts. Size and weight should not be a problem, as Noto can be thin, regular, black, bold and probably anything that you need it to be.
Before we can talk about “preserving history,” it’s safe to say that Noto will ease access to the Internet on a worldwide scale. Facilitating access to information in more remote regions of, say, Pakistan, or Mongolia, or various African countries, is certainly an initiative that deserves positive recognition.
In the future, young internet users from Asia will probably have to be reminded that tofu once meant more than just the soy cheese on their plates.
Image source: Pixabay