Of all the truly calamitous afflictions of the modern world, typomania is one of the most alarming and least understood. It was first diagnosed by the German designer Erik Spiekermann as a condition peculiar to the font-obsessed, and it has one common symptom: an inability to walk past a sign (or pick up a book or a menu) without needing to identify the typeface. Sometimes font freaks find this task easy, and they move on; and sometimes their entire day is wrecked until they nail it.
This week saw a flare-up of fontroversies with the news that New York's street signs were getting a reprieve from a 2018 deadline requiring the replacement of their iconic all-capitals format with a combination of capitals and lowercase. There will now be a more relaxed approach, the change occurring merely when the signs wear out. But. the debate rages on: Are lowercase letters really safer in traffic (studies say they're easier to read at speed) than capitals?