Google in Arabia: Introducing the Khatt Network for Arabic typography

24 Aug 2007
  • 10:30 -10:30

Movable type was the the new media of the 15th century. In Europe many rulers felt threatened by it, and they were right.

They did not stop it though. They just tried to censor on the content level.

In the mean time, the Ottoman rulers of the Arabic world did ban book printing and thus blocked media innovation in the Levant and beyond for centuries.

That is why the have so much fun in the Khatt network today!

Ski Dubai - If you have money, everything is possible in Dubai. Traffic permiting, you can go from a camel ride in the desert, via a quick cownslope on your snowboard to the beach! The bilingual typography in the Mall of the Emirates could still be improved on though;-)

So what could a ruler learn from this:

1: Censorship on the content level (like in many arab countries now) may slow down development of society a bit, but it will not stop it.

2: If you want to protect your power and the political status quo, it may be more effective to block ALL new media development. So today: disconnect internet. (beware of cell phones too).

3: The drawback of such policies: development of your culture, science, tecnology and economy may be severely hurt on the long term. (You family life may suffer too)

4: On the up side: old media will flourish in your empire and will develop unprecedented levels of traditionalistic prettyness!

5: The development of a visual culture and artistic tools that is needed to use those new media effectively, will not happen anytime soon.

6: Five centuries later a network of very nice artists and designers will have the time of their life.

They will find each other through even newer media.

Together they will work hard and repair some of the damage you have done.

7: Welcome to khtt.net

8: thank you

Space Ship Hotel in Dubai - This hotel looks like something form a cheap retro-sci fi series. It has internet on every room though. Good enough to discover that all the Mediamatic websites were blocked in the Emirates (2006)

Tent at AUD campus during Kitabat 2006 - Here at th Unversity campus, our websites were perfectly accessible.

Memento Mori: Dance Macabre dans l'Imprimerie by Mathias Huss, Lyon 1499 - 1499: One of the first depictions of a printers workshop. New media associated with death.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum - The Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books") is a list of publications censored by the Catholic Church. The aim of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral books or works containing theological errors. The various editions also contain the rules of the Church relating to the reading, selling and censorship of books.

Sultan Bayazid II 1447-1512 - When he was an 8 year old boy, Gutenberg did his first succesful book printing experiments. In 1485 this same Bayezid II banned the printing press from the Ottoman empire.

Sultan Selim I (1665-1620) - This is the little boy of Bayezid II. When his dad died he assumed the throne. The first thing he did was kill off all his brothers and his nephews. This was to make sure he could keep the throne. He also reconfirmed his fathers ban on movable type. He did greatly expand the Ottoman empire by conquering Syria, Palestine, Egypt and also the cities of Mecca and Medina.