Dear Govt: Change typeface, save millions. Yours, Suvir, 14
14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani discovers that printer ink is more expensive than Chanel No. 5. So he tries to find a typeface that uses less of it. And the government could save millions.
Saving money is boring.
It has no redeeming features, no immediate benefits, and is a little too much like brushing your teeth -- without the fresh, minty taste.
But if you're a sixth-grader who's fascinated by computer science, perhaps it can lift your spirits. Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani from Pittsburgh became deeply involved in a science fair project.
Despite being interested in computer science, he noticed that there was still a lot of paper flying about the world. So he began to wonder about printer's ink.
Following diligent research, he learned that ink is more expensive by volume than Chanel No. 5. Some might adore an ad in which models sprayed printer's ink on themselves. That may say more about their personal artistic tastes.
He then tested different typefaces to see which might simply use the least. He settled on Garamond, with its more thinly sculpted strokes. He got out his calculator and discovered he could save his school $21,000 a year.
Next, he published his results in the Journal For Emerging Investigators, which is in no way affiliated with the NSA.
This fine publication then asked Mirchandani a simple question: "Hey, how much do you think the government could save?"
The young brain got to work and soon deduced that, again by switching to Garamond, the savings would be, oh, $136 million.
And if the state governments played along, that would be another $234 million.
What says the federal government to this fine work? You will be stunned that it says it will think about it, though it's focused more -- in environmentally positive terms -- on moving everything to the Web.
Perhaps committees will have to be formed and they will have to form more committees to discuss such a difficult venture. These committees will probably cost considerable amounts of time and money.
Meanwhile, Mirchandani has a simple response: "They can't convert everything to a digital format. Not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed."
This first experience in trying to disrupt government may turn Mirchandani toward different horizons.
Who would be surprised if he owned a startup by the time he's 18 and made millions from, say, an online system that bypasses the need for committees?