Jun 23, 2013

Big Brother Can't Watch You - Disruptive Typeface For Jamming Optical Character Recognition

Based off of the recent privacy nightmare that has unfolded over the last few weeks with the revelation of the Orwellian PRISM initiative about various large companies involvement in the whistle-blown program, I'm not the least bit surprised about the types of counter movements that have sprung up overnight in order to battle the ever growing invasion of privacy that governments have deemed to be justifiable as a means of protecting us. Personally I had an overnight change of heart regarding Google Glass once Edward Snowden revealed some details about the extent of the surveillance, leading me to ponder the permutations of wearing a pair of data broadcasting glasses.

Late last night an individual by the alias of Sang Mun contacted us with an example of his counter movement, a typographic face designed to scramble any type of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) interface via the introduction of a mixture of foreign elements to characters similar to bot disabling captcha codes present when registering for websites. While his claims of being an NSA agent are unfounded at best, I expect to see many more examples of this counter surveillance movement pop up in the near future. Sang's personal take on the ZXX project, below, and if you're curious about the fonts you can download them here.

Over the course of a year, I researched and created ZXX, a disruptive typeface which takes its name from the Library of Congress’ listing of three-letter codes denoting which language a book is written in. Code 'ZXX' is used when there is: 'No linguistic content; Not applicable.' The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them? I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker) — misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence. I drew six different cuts (Sans, Bold, Camo, False, Noise and Xed) to generate endless permutations, each font designed to thwart machine intelligences in a different way.

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