A | The Alphabet Julen

Alphabet Books

I have always loved alphabets and alphabet books and books of alphabets. I have been unduly fascinated for with them for years. In 1993 in Elliot Offner's fantastic Introduction to Typography class, I set, printed, and bound twelve copies of a An Alphabet of Nursery Rhymes, a compilation of nursery rhymes arranged alphabetically. When I was a travelling consultant, touring the hotel rooms of American cities, I began a series of digital alphabets. I can't resist a good alphabet book at auctions, and I can't bring myself to sell the box of foundry broadsheets I got several years ago ... yet.

Several years ago, I found an antique alphabet book, an 1844 reprint of a 1694 Primer - and put it on-line.

Ancient Studies

My undergraduate major in college was Ancient Studies, an interdisciplinary major. The focus of my coursework was the art, literature, and popular culture of Provincial Rome. I was particularly interested in the Italian towns, where change in social hierarchy, power, and culture can be seen in the broad tapestry of their times, and the non-Roman cultures. As a major, it prepared me well for my future life, which always seems to boggle folks. But I developed a variety of ways to look at information, parse it, combine, and synthesize it. Translation, interpretation, documentation, commentary: these are all things that translated perfectly to later life.

Ancient World Web

The most famous of my web pages, the Ancient World Web was an index that aims to provide broad coverage of sites relating to the Ancient World - all cultures, all time periods before roughly 1000 A.D. It inspired my depressing email: Reams of requests to do someone's (or someone's kid, far too often) homework or to mail/fax/FedEx them "everything about the Renaissance" or "everything [I] know about Ancient Rome." I loved many of the folks I got to know during that decade - content providers, indexers, enthusiasts. I ended up having to shutter because it was a full-time job just to manage it (and I had another - paying - full-time job that demanded my attention).


An anecdote lived on the front page of the Alphabet for months and months; lots of people linked to it, blah blah blah short-lived meme blah blah blah. I don't even know what this refers to any more. At some point, I must have decided to not resurrect that page, which means that my minor infamy will recede into the shadows, lost in the shadows of time. Whoo-hoo?

Animated Gifts

Up until the last year or so, I could still count on one hand the number of useful animated .gifs I'd seen, and there aren't that many more that really impressed me. Naturally, in 1997, I decided to create the world's largest animated .gif (287k) as a sort of introduction to me/ (if that was indeed a record, it didn't last long!) in an effort to explain myself. (It's so very 1997!) Oddly, in this modern, age of whizz-bang movement, animation, there has been an upswing in useful, utile animated gifs out there: informative and appropriate for the medium. It pleases my inner grump.

Apple Macintosh

I can still remember when we got that Macintosh SE. We'd had Compaqs and other IBM-compatibles (as they were called in those days) and a TRS-80 before that, but the Macintosh SE enchanted me like no other. I ended up taking it to college with me. I've gone through many Macs and PCs since then, not to mention tablets and smart phones, but that Macintosh SE still holds a fond place in my heart.


I can't stand the stuff. I dislike the texture even more than the taste.


The curious thing about auctions (at least the ones I attend!) is how your frame of refence changes - all of a sudden, things you'd spend 30 bucks for in a store aren't worth upping your bid to $12, and things you'd never normally consider buying become attractive at $1 or $10 or $25. I love auctions, both for finding treasures and for people watching. I love a good deal and I love a good treasure, and when the two combine paths ... It's a thrill.


I lived in Australia for about ten months when I was twelve, and I loved it. We lived right on the beach - one half mile north brought us to a great fruit market, one half mile south to the rock reefs and the places we bought our kilos of ham and cheese and bread. I have fond memories of the sand and the bus; the cockatoo down the street and the ferry to the city; the library and the harbor. I still count Sydney among my favorite cities, and the Great Barrier Reef as an extraordinary experience.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is clearly one of the greatest books ever written, but I prefer Persuasion. Heresy!

Words I particularly like: