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Time may be nigh for font rebellion

The pen--or in this case, the pixel--is proving again to be mightier than the sword in the Web 2.0 revolution. That, at least, is our interpretation of the open-source movement in type design.

The subject of has been the object of much debate for years among Web designers and developers, so it is a natural issue for social-networking dynamics. And recent circumstances may have created a particularly opportune time for rebellion: Earlier this year, some reviewers noted that as the font of choice in beta versions of Office 2007--a move that, if made permanent in the final release of the software, would end a decade-long reign.

Given the ubiquity of Windows products, Times New Roman has become the de facto standard for anyone using a PC. In earlier generations, this would be analogous to the vast majority of students learning to type on the same typewriter with all homework assignments looking the same, then growing into adulthood conditioned to think that any other font simply looked wrong. That, by definition, would seem antithetical to the philosophies of an interactive world.

Microsoft is trying a new default font called Calibri with the coming version of Office. But if the open-source community is successful in font design and distribution, Calibri won't be nearly as dominant as Times New Roman was in Web 1.0.