There are many good baseball players out there, but few truly great players. (Yes, this is going to be another weak baseball analogy weakly tied to something like interpretation or interpretive design that you actually care about.) My all-time favorite New York Yankee player (I don’t have to say great since it is a preconceived notion that no other Major League Baseball teams have great players, there is also a discussion that every player to ever wear the pinstripes is great but that’s an analogy for another blog post.) is Derek Jeter.

Those who have been paying attention to the Yankees over the last few weeks (even if just for the ability to chastise me on Facebook) may have noticed that overall the team is getting older and don’t have the spunk of 2009 (when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series). At some point even the greatest players get old and despite the ability jump, turn and throw in mid-air, it all comes down to what you have contributed lately. Jeter has been primarily contributing ground balls to the short stop.

I feel bad for Jeter. He his resume speaks for itself. He has been a machine for years, has 5 World Championship rings, as well as many other titles but in an attempt to retain you as a reader (yes, we honestly try; well, I guess it could be debated that Paul’s grammar posts are counterproductive) here’s the part that I’m really struggling with, Jeter turns 37 next month and so do I.

Over the last few months I have been feeling old myself. As a player, he is past is prime and as a professional baseball player, rating his contribution to the team is easily measurable, or is it? How do I know if I’m still a player and contributing in my field of play? (Which is much like Yankee Stadium minus the applause and 50,287 spectators, but still plenty of hot dogs.)

Some time ago I wrote about staying relevant (Relevance for the Irrelevant) and this could be considered an extension of that post or part two (of Shea getting old). As interpretive designers we are often working as a team. Someone may be contributing artwork, text, concepts, funds, or ideas while others may be responsible for design, layout, technological support, or supervision. In some cases you could be carrying all of those responsibilities. I find myself on many design/project/problem-solving teams in my course of work. I just want to make sure that I’m contributing so that I don’t get moved from short stop to right field, to the designated hitter slot, or even worse shipped off to the National League.

Here are some ways that I’m working to stay relevant in a team environment.

If I’m in a leadership role I try to provide clear expectations of the group and outline responsibilities without taking over the creative process. Teetering between manager and player is a delicate balance of providing direction, creating goals and objectives, while allowing the strengths of each member shine. Knowing strengths and weaknesses of players will guide your decisions about specific roles. Groups are often looking for a leader. If you are in that role, lead.

If I’m not in a leadership role I view my primary responsibility as being supportive. I have to set aside any personal agendas and let the process take place. The best part of doing this is that it takes an amazing amount of pressure off of me of know what the end product will be and allows me to focus on my role (supporting others) and my responsibilities. Working in this way is rewarding and productive.

Don’t forget about the intangibles that you can bring to a collaborative effort. Respect, attention to detail, positive attitude and being prepared can go a long way in reaching goals.

I don’t think it is time for Derek Jeter to lay down and call it quits. He may have to adapt his  role as a leader and a player in order to lead the Yankees to their next title.

The Great Space Debate: To Single- or Double-Space After a Period

A while back, I declared my allegiance to the serial comma, and I am ready to take another stand.

I believe that double-spacing after a period at the end of a sentence is outdated, clunky, and typographically unsound. (While I’m at it, I also believe that college football’s postseason format is fraudulent, the designated hitter rule is silly, Conan O’Brien was treated unfairly, and Arrested Development was taken off the air way too soon.)

This is not exactly a cutting-edge opinion, but there are still plenty of people out there using the antiquated post-period double space. This is fine if you’re writing e-mails or crafting ransom notes from magazine clippings, but if you’re creating professional-quality printed materials, the single space is the way to go.

monospace-1The double space after periods was a standard in the days of typewriters, which used monospaced typefaces in which each letter or grammatical mark, whether a capital M or an apostrophe, is given the same amount of space. The typeface Courier, pictured here with ugly, gaping double-space holes after the periods, mimics a typewriter and is an example of a monospaced typeface. (Note the way the characters line up in columns, delineated here with pinstripes, because of the monospacing.) The thinking at the time was that the double space helped provide a visual break between sentences, but when the computer came along and allowed for more subtle variations in spacing, the double space became obsolete.

proportional-1Since the advent of the computer, most typefaces are proportional, allotting the appropriate amount of space for each typographic character, including spaces after periods. See the typeface Minion, set with elegant, contemporary single spaces, in the example here.

These days, most style guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style and Associated Press, call for the single space. Another proponent of the single space is Robin Williams (the not-funny female graphic designer and author, not the not-funny male actor), who has written several books on technology and graphic design, such as The Mac is Not a Typewriter, The PC is Not a Typewriter, and The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

You’ll notice that nearly all professionally designed printed materials (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.) utilize the single space. The double space after a period looks especially silly if you are using justified type, which already skews word- and letterspacing to force lines of text into a certain amount of space.

The proponents of two spaces after a period seem to harp on the same point: I was taught that way. Many are trying to stop but can’t. Others refuse to hear reason, desperately clinging to their Sholes & Glidden typewriter in one hand, waving the jagged end of a broken moonshine bottle at you with the other.

In the end, there is technically no right or wrong when it comes to spacing after periods, unless you are obligated to follow one of the many style guides out there that call for the single space. But then again, there’s technically no right or wrong when it comes to wearing tapered jeans and paisley shirts, and people do that, too.