Communications Far Beyond the Bounds of ASCII

20 years of Japanese (and CJKV) Information Processing

When I first started programming, the ASCII set of characters was my playground, and it was hard to imagine how computers would deal with more. Today, in an age where international transactions are ordinary and the World Wide Web lives up to its name, it’s easy to wonder why software doesn’t do a better job of handling an incredible number of characters.

Ken Lunde has followed these changes for the past two decades, chronicling them in his books and helping improve the situation directly in his work in CJKV (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) Type Development at Adobe. He recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Understanding Japanese Information Processing. We discussed that and its successor CJKV Information Processing (as well as its 1st edition) in an interview last month.

Some of the highlights in our conversation include:

  • From interest to research to years before a book (0:28)
  • Unicode became the de facto way in which text is handled on computers. (4:14)
  • How the typesetting of the books reflects the changes in the field (7:40)
  • OpenType has improved the font situation (11:07)
  • Emoji appear in Unicode, along with work on color and animation (12:58)

I’m amazed by how quickly emoji have become normal, and wonder what that suggests for the color and animation possibilities.

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