All posts by Samuel John Klein

Acrobat 9 Pro: The Designorati Review

Note: Also see Jeremy Schultz’s Adobe Acrobat 9 Extended overview, focussing on specific features that that edition brings you.

The new Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro is out in the wild and it’s looking good to us.

Who, inside and outside of design, doesn’t find themselves reading a PDF from time to time? Adobe’s making the Acrobat Reader (latterly, simply “Adobe Reader”, to make it distinct from the Acrobat PDF creation product) free for the downloading might have seemed a risky idea when they did it at first, but in retrospect it seems genius. PDFs have made platform-independent document presentation real; a PDF I generate from any PDF-generating application will almost certainly be readable by anyone else who has Reader … or now, any number of applications that understand PDFs.

Moreover, the PDF standard has grown wings, with the various PDF/X formats and PDFs being integrated into production workflows industry-wide.

It only makes sense, then, that Adobe should grow Acrobat to meet this challenge. And that’s just what we have here with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro (with packaging that harmonizes with Adobe’s CS3 product line, though a stand-alone application). There are new features that seem to make Acrobat straddle the bridge between content aggregator and content creator, collaboration features that allow more dynamic sharing, and PDF workflow support that can really whip your PDFs into press-ready shape.

PDF Portfolios

By far, as an independent designer, the most exciting feature of Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro is the PDF Porftolios. We’ve already explored them here.

What a PDF Portfolio is is a new way to aggregate different sorts of content into a single PDF viewable by Reader 9. That in and of itself is nothing new, but with Adobe’s integration of Flash technology into Acrobat we get a great new way of presenting content in motion. Where you included a screenshot before, now you can include actual video clip content.

Acobat 9 PDF Portfolio Blue

The Acrobat 9 Pro PDF Portfolio allows the user to create dynamic, easy and fun to use compilations including video, documents, all with a website-like interface.

It’s a feast for the eyes and with the Adobe walk-through way of putting it all together, the learning curve is especially short. I’d recommend looking into upgrading for this reason alone.

New, Improved Plays-Well-With-Others

Collaboration is everywhere you go these days. When you work on line, you’ll have to share … or at least show someone else what you’re doing.

The new Acrobat also comes with an online Partner … Acrobat.com. Registration is free there, and it offers the user the use of one of the most interesting new features of Acrobat 9 Pro – Synchonized Views.

Everyone reading this is familiar with a certain difficulty in collaborating by email: the necessity of describing the change you want to make succinctly and clearly by the written word. It’s not always possible to be on a conference call or in a chat room. What Synchronized Views do is allow one person to point out areas in a document while having other people see what it is that is being pointed out in real-time, on their computer screens. The result should be a much more organic collaboration process, more intuitive.

The new Acrobat.com also allows sharing by keeping your files in a place where you control access – things can either be public or limited to certain colleagues you store in an online address book.

Acrobat.com is, in our experience, easy to navigate, easy to get on board on, and rather intuitive as well.

PDF Production–Reinforcing the Workflow

PDFs have moved into quite sophisticated areas. With the maturing of the standard and the outgrowth of the PDF/X standards, PDFs are not only ready for prime-time, they’re ready for press time as well. Acrobat 9 Pro includes new tools that support the role PDF plays now.

Overprint Preview is still here, of course, but now it has intelligence. It can be configured to activate automatically on viewing a PDF/X file, but also any PDF file if the user so chooses. The enhanced Output Preview with Object Inspector makes finding problems such as live text and too many spot colors very simple indeed – the interface for that we found clear, direct, and informative.

The Color Conversion dialog has been completely redesigned from Acrobat 8, and now includes the ability to select items by attributes. Command sets can be saved as presets for later use and exported for distribution to colleagues as well. Preflighting has been enhanced, but you don’t need it to check standards compliance – it’s now a menu item in the Preflight menu, which checks against and allows conversion to the most used standards.

All This, and It Runs Like A Champ

Acrobat 9 Pro offers a lot, and in some cases, hits it out of the park. But our first impression had, ironically, nothing to do with that. We were thrilled with how nimbly the program runs, even on an older computer.

This author tested his copy on his PowerMac G4 desktop. The icon bounced in the dock just once and the program was ready to use … up and running in under a second. Loading a reasonably large PDF of about 3 MB only made it bounce once more. While running, the program ran quick and responsively.

We don’t know how Adobe pulled this one off, but this is one bit of tight programming going on here.

Recommendation and How To Buy

We were pleased with a great deal about Acrobat 9 Pro. The new tools can potentially provide a great deal of value to creators and collaborators. The PDF Portfolio enables more impressive sharing and promotion, and collaboration with the new tools is easier than ever before.

We feel that Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro could well become an indispensable tool to designers and creators all over, and recommend that everyone who can, check into upgrading. You’re really missing out if you don’t.

Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro has a street price of $159 for the upgrade and $449 for the full product. It requires a minimum of Windows XP on a 1.3 GHz or faster processor or Mac OS X 10.4.11 on a G4 or better PowerPC or Intel Mac. Complete details can be found at Adobe’s Acrobat site.

Additional Designorati Coverage

Got A Browser Open? You Can Make A Font!

A mention in Slate can really make a rising star.

Recently debuted, FontStruct, from FontShop International, is a free web-based application that allows even the tyro to make fonts, download them to their system, and share them. It is a very basic tool that nonetheless allows for a great number of variations in style and look. It has its limits, but those who just like playing with fonts, regardless of the level of aptitude, will probably have a great time creating with it.

The author of the Slate article wrote so eloquently about it that the site went down with a non-Slashdot Slashdot. It’s back up now and … it’s pretty nifty.

FontStrtuctor

The author plays with FontStruct’s FontStructor web application

How does it work? The word for the day is “blocks”.

Playing With Building Blocks

The FontStructor (where one constructs their fonts, or, in the argot of the interfact, “FontStructions”) is a very simple thing; a large grid paper, with the left margin and the baseline clearly marked and with the lower-left origin marked with a red dot.

The left sidebar contains a scrollable box of blocks. These blocks, combined with the simple toolbox, are scattered about on the graph paper, much as one would fill in blocks on a piece of graph paper with a pencil. The toolbox and zoom control appear on floating palettes within the interface, giving the whole thing a rather familiar and comforting feel; anyone who’s used just about any bit of graphics software developed in the last decade or so will find the whole thing very wonderfully intuitive and figure it out pretty quickly

Toolbox and Interface: Just What You Need

The toolbox only contains some basic tools that are nonetheless appropriate for working within the paradigm: the pencil fills individual blocks, the line draws a line of them (holding down the mouse button whilst dragging gives a ‘ghost’ image that allows for more precise placement); the rectangle tools allows you to drag a rectangle which will then fill with the selected blocks, the hand tool allows for dragging the view about, and the eraser tool … well, it erases.

Zooming is also controlled by a simple slider on a floating control palette. Advanced controls are another palette, which allows you to control scaling of the blocks for creating different effects.

The blocks sidebar, previously mentioned, not only holds all the blocks available for contstruction as well as another window that shows only the blocks used int he current character, which assists in consistent construction. Also another advanced feature that helps in this wise is the ability to turn on ghost images of adjacent glyphs.

Just as notable as what it does do is what it doesn’t do; you don’t set hints, or kerning pairs, or any real professional-level attributes and features. The fonts you download are TrueType which, these days, seems to be much less of a design deal-breaker than it once was. But the limitations are perfectly reasonable within the offerings of the web app, which allows the user to pretty much design whatever they want to within the limits of the block canon (our tour included font sets that were Mexian wrestler (luchadore) masks, which were quite cool indeed. We imagine that funky character and symbol sets may exist there; the library is quite large!

Free For the People

The FontStruct website is available at no cost to register and use; the only requirement is that you have a capable browser. Once there, you can create, save, and share at will; part of the allure of the site is community, where you can have your font voted on.

FontShop, of course, has an angle into its own creation, offering fonts that you just can’t get the modular way. But the ads are restrained and though not obtrusive, easy to find.

Even the most sophisticated designer will sometime get out a basic tool to see where creativity happens. FontStruct is cool in this way. We can see where one might prototype on it during a slack time and download the result for work in a more advanced program. Amateur font enthusiasts will find a big fun playground that doesn’t require intensive knowledge and is easy to learn; more advanced amateurs will find a tool which they might have fun pushing the boundaries of and a group of people to share and get inspired by.

We think FontStruct is a great deal of fun. Find it here.

Making PDF Porfolios With Adobe Acrobat Pro 9

One of the most exciting and fun-looking parts of the new Adobe® Acrobatâ„¢ Pro 9 is the ability to make slick-as-anything PDF Portfolios with a minimum of effort. After reviewing how to do it, I really wanted to make one of my own. Here’s how it all went down.

(If you want to get a look at the PDF Portfolio that results from all this play, go to this link at Acrobat.com and click “Download”. It will require Acrobat Pro 9 to be viewed).

Starting It Off

Starting off the fun isn’t terribly difficult. All one needs to to is go to the File menu and select Create PDF Porfolio. A window opens with a large blank area on the left and a sidebar on the right. The instructions in the gray area are simple and direct … Drag Files Here. Do so. That’s all I had to do.

First, of course, I had to choose the kind of Portfolio I wanted to create. I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s “Cover Flow” model, and the “Revolve” option is kind of cover-flow-ish.

Then all I had to do was drag files in from the Finder, and it was off to the races.

I even added a Flash video file that I had converted from a QuickTime movie I’d done. It took no trouble at all.

Populating PDF Porfolio

Populating the PDF Portfolio is as simple as dragging your files into the interface from the folder.

A Cover To Judge The Book By

The tautology is worn rather shiny, but true nonetheless; first impressions mean so much. PDF Portfolios give you a special chance to make a first impression: you can have a custom splash page, or a Start Page.

This is kept simple as well. On the Edit PDF Portfolio sidebar, clicking on the Welcome and Header tab causes that part to spring open. You have options to customize the Welcome Page and add a header to it as you see fit. I decided to go without the header and just come up with a welcome message and background image. Clicking in the resizable text box I typed in a short, friendly welcome message, and resized it a bit. Clicking on the image box brought up a file-open dialogue where I could search my drive and find a graphic. The text can be styled and colored with basic styles and controls, and the size of the illustration can be quickly scaled up and down. The pertinent controls appear when the appropriate object is selected.

Since I like a big splash, I really scaled up the image. The text had to be colored black in order to stand out against it. It was quickly and simply done with the controls.

Acrobat 9 PDF Portfolio Start Page

Type text, import image, style, scale, adjust. All very simply done.

I can’t go past this without pointing out that you have a good number of options for customizing this. You can have text only, text and picture, even a flash movie … or no welcome page at all.

Now, from here you can add a similarly-customizable header, but I chose not to do that, as the design really doesn’t depend much on such a thing and it would have been a bit cluttered.

In the final PDF Portfolio, the page has a “Get Started” Button at the bottom which takes you on to the rest of the document. As I said, very slick indeed.

Coloring Your World

The default color on startup is the sort of usual gray that you find in Creative Suite’s Bridge and on the Adobe hosted web services such as Acrobat.com. It’s not a bad choice, but if you’re a designer, you’re rarely satisfied with complete default. I thought a blue would be proper choice.

Clicking on the Select A Color Scheme tab on the Edit sidebar springs open access to a modest palette of preset color schemes … and, of course, the option to create your own.

acrobat 9 palette

Not happy with the default color choices? Use one of Acrobat Pro 9’s suggestions – or customize your own.

After applying my choices and clicking the “home” button on the top to go back to the files display, I found I was very pleased with the dark blue which allowed the content to stand out in front.

Acobat 9 PDF Portfolio Blue

The color scheme … just what the designer ordered.

May We Take Your Order?

The last tab in the Edit sidebar, Specify File Details, gives the tools necessary to add descriptions, titles, view file information and compression information, and arrange the files the way you want them to be presented. It’s easy understand and easy to use.

Clicking any Description field enables you to enter a witty, succinct, compelling description. You can select which fields you want to include in the table in the sidebar, and generate new columns as well. You can of course sort the table in any order the columns provide.

Acrobat 9 PDF Portfolio List

Information and arranging … power at your fingertips in the penultimate step


Setting It Loose In The Wild

The last step, Publish is what seals the deal for your PDF Portfolio. The Publish step allows you to either create a PDF on your desktop, go direct to email with your Portfolio, or if it’s a large one, upload to Adobe’s hosted service at Acrobat.com (you may have to create an Adobe ID for this, but that’s quick, easy, and integrated.

The PDF Portfolio functionality of Acrobat Pro 9 makes a lot of sense for those who are looking for a quick way to produce really good-looking PDF showcases. Sharing is easy, and assembling the Portfolio allows enough customization to make each one a unique piece. All anyone will need to view your PDF Portfolio is Reader 9, which should be available soon as a free download. Additionally, the PDF Portfolio interface is a full-featured one, including a search box that will search all documents, making it potentially a very powerful promotional and information delivery platform.

In extending the PDF into multimedia in this way, Adobe has given digital designers a wide range of powerful ways to exhibit their content and sell themselves. And it’s all very simple, indeed.

Acrobat Pro 9 Turns Powerful New Tricks

For Jeremy Schultz’s story on the PDF Portfolio feature of Acrobat 9 Professional, click here. For the Acrobat 9 Pro press release story, click here.

Adobe Acrobat is all new.

Well, actually, that’s not completely true. The Acrobat application you’ve known and loved to make and edit PDFs and share is still the same. But the new features that it includes will make it feel like a new application. We recently had the opportunity to seen the new Acrobat Pro 9 in action and we were very impressed. It’s got new approaches to PDF-based workflows – collaboration, sharing, comparing, and showing off – that show off a newly evolved Acrobat – an ever more interconnected and collaborative tool than Acrobat’s ever been before.

The new Acrobat Pro improves in three very important ways: Presentation, Participation, and Production.

Presentation: Your PDF Collection Is Now A Slick Portfolio

Perhaps the most immediate benefit the user can enjoy with Acrobat Pro 9 out of the box is the new PDF Portfolio. It will change the way you think of PDFs as a vehicle for content delivery.

The way things were done before you’d assemble a group of PDFs into a multi-page PDF binder in Acrobat, and that worked really well. But it was rather static and without flash, and who doesn’t want to wow someone with a portfolio (hands, anyone? Didn’t thinks so). Now, with PDF Portfolio, you have the flash … and you now have the Flash.

Acro 9 cover flow

One option for the front end of your PDF Portfolio – dynamic, Flash-based, fun to use, and slick. Very impressive. (illustration courtesy Adobe)

Creating a PDF Portfolio is rather simple … a single menu pulldown creates the empty portfolio, and adding files (or entire folders) to the portfolio is as simple as selecting … or even dragging-and-dropping. A simple click enables one of several display options, from a simple grid to a web-page style display on a background image to a sliding animated row. Flash navigation is easily understood and easily used.

The presentation bonanza doesn’t stop there, however. Going from this stage is a simple step to adding a customized welcome and header page that can contain a photo, custom text, or a movie file. Acrobat’s new grokking of Flash and movie files allow the user to include more than screengrabs … now FLV and SWF content can actually become part of the portfolio. The difference between the usual static collection of documents and lively content powered by video should be obvious, and the PDF Porfolio creation process makes it very nearly child’s-play.

Participation: New Ways To Play Well With Others

Acrobat has latterly provided ways to collaborate, gather, and share that have worked well. Acrobat Connect provides great ways to do a meeting, and this author himself has enjoyed the sheer convenience that PDF forms and digital signing provides.

With the new collaborative tools, though, Acrobat Pro 9 (if the reader will excuse the expression) kicks it up to the next level. Not only will you be able rendezvous as before, but now you’ll actually be able to show people exactly what you’re talking about. Before, telling someone to look at a certain spot on a document you’re collaborating or getting comments on over the phone or by email sounded rather much like a spouse giving their partner instruction on scratching their back.

Sometimes awkward? You bet.

The new Acrobat Pro 9 (and Reader 9) make it easy by synchronizing views. What this is is what it says; you’re discussing a document with collaborators, zeroing in on a document area of concern, and instead of giving directions to your colleagues, you are graphically showing them by zooming in on the content and having thier views match yours.

Feels better? We thought it would.

Improvied collaboration doesn’t stop there. Adobe have upped that game by enhancing the Tracker. You’ll now know who’s commented and have it all up in a central dashboard. You can have the review on a shared folder on your home machine or use the hosted services expected to be made available at Acrobat.com. Forms creation has been spiffed up as well. And an exciting new feature allows users to compare PDFs to see how many changes have occurred and who amongst the teams have made them, and what they were.

Production: The Power of the PDF Workflow

As Adobe have moved through the evolution of the Creative Suite, in the mere time passed since the first Creative Suite debuted, workflows industry-wide have seemed to begin depending on PDFs for output for press. The current range of PDF/X standards tailored for different needs only reinforce this impression. And Acrobat Pro 9 answers this need by improved production tools.

The Overprint Preview has been improved, with intelligence; it now works when needed, instead of having to be manually activated. The default is to automatically turn on whenever a PDF/X file is encountered, but this can be customized so that the so-called Intelligent Overprint Preview can work seamlessly in your workflow, whenever it’s needed.

New improved Output Preview allows the artist to view a wealth of file information (such as line art, anything not CMYK, line art, live as opposed to outlined text, number of Pantone spots) and identify potential trouble spots. Object Inspector allows the artist to get snoopy, finding detailed information on all objects below the selected point. Graphic resolution, color model, color profile, and as much as you can want to know about the objects in the document at the point unfold like a flower blossoming.

Once those spots have been found, the production artist can move into correcting them with ithe improved color conversion tool, which is infinitely customizable. You can also verify against PDF/X standards with a singile click and an information pane. Preflighting? The enhanced Acrobat Pro 9 preflighting is admirably thorough and includes an eye-glazing amount of fixups to correct preflight problems.

Those have been waiting for a PDF tool to begin to tie everything together under a solid PDF workflow may well have found what they are looking for in Acrobat Pro 9. From showing off to sharing around to fixing things, this new version will take your PDF workflow game about as far as you can make it go.

Adobe really hits it out of the park with this one.

For more information on Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, including upgrade paths and pricing as part of the Adobe Creative Suite 3.3, go to http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/acrobatpro/. See also Jeremy Schultz’s publishing of the Acrobat Pro 9 announcement at this article here.

Adobe Tempts With Three Free Public Betas

Adobe announced earlier today that three public betas of next releases of major Creative Suite applications are available now for downloading from the Adobe Labs website. The betas are:

  • Dreamweaver, boasting a Related Files toolbar and Live View Mode (enabling live previews without having to launch an external browser;
  • Fireworks, offering tighter integration with the rest of the suite and PDF export, and compatible with Adobe AIR, HTML, Adobe Flash and Flex Builder;
  • Soundbooth, with multiple track support and MP3 compression preview.

The betas will only run for 48 hours, though if you are a user with CS3 installed you will be able to use the betas continuously until the release of the next version of the Creative Suite.

You can download these betas now from the Adobe Labs site here.

Are You Down With Adobe Font Installation? Thomas Phinney Wants To Know.

Is the way Adobe Creative Suite installs new versions of fonts your cup of coffee? Thomas Phinney wants to hear from you on this.

What we’re concerned about is overwrite behavior. Up to and including the CS3 applications, we have always blindly overwritten any identically-named font files with the versions in the installer. Usually this results in newer fonts being installed over older ones. On some occasions, this could have some kind of compatibility impact. We expect noticeable document reflow to be very rare, but doubtless it will happen in some cases.

His post on his blog, Typblography, is here. It’s a concern of ours as well, because we’ve experienced the problem he cites down the article a bit from there.

The survey is short and won’t take much time, and there is ample opportunity for comment. You can find the link at the end of the post linked above, or if you just love surveys and want to get to it, go here. Adobe is famously attentive to user concerns, and whenever Adobe asks us our opinion, we give it, and so should you.

Type is Tres Chic

Lucky magazine (http://luckymag.com) is an upmarket lifestyle monthly, one that styles itself The Magazine of Shopping and Style. In glorious color and replete with beautiful people modeling the latest fashions, one would think that it would appeal to, if anyone, more a layout artist than a typographer. But there is a treat this month of the typophile.

Lucky magazine type couture Article Illo

Type as style: Lucky Magazine, March 2008, page 74

On page 74 of the March 2008 issue, illustrated on the cover by a photo of a vibrant Rachel Bilson, is a single-page article naming a trend in the making – typography.

Page 74 gives us six high-style examples of how type is breaking into high fashion; A dress by the Vena Cava house; a jewelry designer’s ring, made completely from letterforms; a Hera silk dress, whose mosaic-like patter is made up the negative space between glyphs; a John Derian decoupage tray whose design is made of eighteen of the twenty-six essential Roman glyphs (which “looks like it was taken from the turn-of-the-century print shop”); a pillow based on an Alexander Girard typographic wallpaper; and a “drapey” women’s top with a yoke sprinkled with miniscules.

The article itself is a simple and rather insightful paragraph:

Letters and number are perhaps the most iconic graphic elements of all, which means they can project any kind of mood; Depending on the design, they can call to mind the kidlike charm of a classroom or the bold heraldry of old-school signage …

We might have some gentle quarrel with some of the high-flying language but not the meaning; Lucky‘s editor “gets” what those of us who love type have known for a very long time now: mere type is more than marks on a page. It projects a mood, has emotional resonance, and most of all, has interest.

The fashions are not for the budget-minded; the pillow alone will run you $79, and the Vena Cava dress and jacket (at $610 and #495 respectively) could kit the aspirant purchaser out with a mid-level Wintel laptop. But we think the entry of type onto the radar screens of at least one trendspotter is the indication of a possible trend that is, in and of itself, worth spotting.

If The Semicolon Can Make It There, It Can Make It Anywhere

Seen around the web today, and chiefly via The New York Times, an old friend in the punctuation line, the humble semicolon, has received a perhaps-overdue spotlight. Said the Times:

It was nearly hidden on a New York City Transit public service placard exhorting subway riders not to leave their newspaper behind when they get off the train.

“Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.”

The mere inclusion of a punctuation mark has garnered plaudits and raves from such people as Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves), Geoffrey Nunberg (linguistics professor at UC Berkeley), and even notice from Noam Chomsky.

Who knew the correct and elegant use of a single punctuation mark would generate such fervor?

Make sure and read the whole article here, including a not-to-be-missed and ironically-funny correction at the end made necessary because the Times‘s writer inadvertently correctly punctuated the title of Lynne Truss’s book.

Digital Approaches To Cartographic Heritage Meet Scheduled for Barcelona

(via a tipster):

The 3rd International Workshop Digital Approaches to Cartographic Heritage will take place in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain 26 – 27 June 2008.
Organized by the ICA Commission on Digital Technologies in Cartographic Heritage and the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya, registration is free.

This Workshop is addressed to scholars, researchers, map curators, map collectors, administrators, digital industry / market operators, and students coming from different cultural and educational backgrounds (humanistic, scientific and engineering) whose work is either focused on or affined to cartographic heritage. The Workshop will offer a common ground to colleagues from various disciplines and practice where they can meet, interact and exchange knowledge, experience, plans and ideas on how the digital revolution and modern information and communication technologies in general can or could be used and contribute to
cartographic heritage in terms of acquisition, processing visualization and communication of relevant digital data.

Event Website is here.

Geo-Cluelessness Makes For Good Humor

The reputation of Americans as a nation someone out of the clue loop about the human makeup of the planet we all share is something of a legend. According to a recent National Geographic-Roper survey on geographical literacy:

  • Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
  • 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It’s the largest country in Africa.)
  • Half of young Americans can’t find New York on a map.

Moreover, this video on YouTube references the same survey to sound the call that fully 20 per cent of British youths cannot locate the U.K. on a map. Perhaps the USA is being a bit unfairly singled out here.

Regardless, one way we deal with such sobering news is to make light of it, and this is not necessarily a bad thing; through humor vital messages can be delivered, and we can have a good laugh besides.

One example we’ve seen recently is a map of what may (or may not) be Europe in the popular comic strip Luann, drawn by cartoonist Greg Evans. In this strip published in American newspapers on Sunday, 17 Feb, the main character is asked by her parents what she learned in school today … and Luann gives them a literal gallimaufry of people and places.

In the middle panel is the cartographic joke; a thing looking vaguely like Europe but mixing everything up; Great England jostles just off shore between the British I’ll and Europe; North England shares space on what might be the Scandinavian Peninsula with Denland and Iceway; continental states include French, Mexico, Grease, and Ohio, the numeral 7 appears in several countries for no apparent reason, and a long word describes the mulligatawny in the center of the landmass – rendered unreadable by the multiplicity of colors, shapes, and boundaries.

Of course, the character here isn’t ignorant – she’s a high-school student doing the best she can with a welter of information being relentlessly dropped on her daily, making this more a commentary on where ignorance can spring from than what damage it might cause.

And as far as the damage geo-cluelessness can produce, nobody does satire better than the esteemed Onion News Network, who gives us here a report on America sending billions of dollars to Andorra, a prosperous western European microstate, because someone thought it was in Africa:


Nation Of Andorra Not In Africa, Shocked U.S. State Dept. Reports

This image, a screen capture, shows the detail of the map of Africa the State Dept. was working from. They were sure that Andorra was in the purple area marked ??? somehow (noting also the nations of Mumbamu, to the north; the infamous Claw Island, and “Congo”, covering the northern fourth:

A US State Dept Map of Africa from The Onion News Network

Andorra: They were sure it was in there, somewhere …

This all simply stands as proof that humor can make the unfunny contemplatable, and this can perhaps give us the courage to address the situation. And, along the way, we’ll have a pretty good laugh, and a memorable joke or two.