If you’ve ever wanted to browse a wordless internet, you’re not alone. Martin Grasser shares your woes. Martin Grasser, coincidentally, is a man who knows more than most about the sheer amount of text that clutters up the internet like so many stray hairs in a gigantic digital plug hole.
Martin Grasser is the man who gave us the Twitter logo, and Martin Grasser is a man on a mission to generate a version of the internet in which words cease to exist. Color Dot — a newly launched plug-in which is currently only available for the Firefox browser — is that internet.
The idea was simple: create a typeface which automatically converts alphanumerical characters into coloured dots. The execution is delightfully odd: rendered as nothing but colour, Grasser forces the reader to consider their relationship to language.
“It seems that by replacing letterforms with dots one becomes much more aware of the contexts that language operates within and the patterns it creates, and how much these things influence meaning and communication,” Martin tells It’s Nice That when asked to explain what the project is trying to say about how we use words in the online world.
He describes the project as an attempt at crafting a kind of “true universal language” pointing to the fact that while it might be “hard to imagine anyone ever being able to read in Color Dot,” we have managed to get our head around various “structural conventions that have become ubiquitous across many cultures,” including username and password fields, and CAPTCHA.
Martin uses an email client as a prime example of how the visual language of the internet is something we learn and supplement our mother tongue with. “An English speaking Gmail user can go onto the South Korean Gmail site and still make sense of the many prompts,” he explains.
Now, not to get too serious here, but the internet isn’t always the friendliest place. Misinformation runs riot, hatred swells, and you’ve got to put up with seeing meme after unfunny meme retweeted into your feed 24 hours a day. All of which can make one of mankind’s greatest inventions feel like little more than a system in which hostility and irritation constantly find themselves taking centre stage.
Mark would like, in his own way, to change that. “If this project gives people a break from digital information overload for a bit that would be great,” he says. “If it contributes to more awareness of how systems and patterns influence communication that would be good too.”
The OG version of Color Dot is available to use right this second. Martin says that “there are plans to release some versions with different colour palettes and shapes in the future,” which is good news for anyone looking for some digital respite from the internet’s unstoppable glut of pure, raw language.