Software that makes us stupid

This TV show advert – plastered all around New York lately – is making me angry. Why?

Til death logo from advert
That curly thing is not an apostrophe! And you don't have to be a font freak or typography wonk to know the difference. In grade school – before I could distinguish Garamond from Gill Sans, before Adobe Systems was founded – I knew that an apostrophe curved down and to the left.

So how did this happen? Considering that computer keyboards have no ‘left curly single quote’ key – and that probably 98% of all computer users wouldn't know how to type that character if their lives depended on it – how could this gaffe occur when the apostrophe key is right there on your keyboard?

Yes, you know where I'm going with this: SmartQuotes.™

This is the feature on many word processors and desktop publishers that automatically converts typewriter-style straight quotes into curly ones. Unfortunately, it does a poor job of it, and that's often worse than not doing the job at all.

Now, I'm not one to ridicule or be offended by home-made garage sale fliers and grocery store signage with their superfluous quotation marks. Er, well, I don't extensively ridicule them.

But here is a case of a major broadcasting firm with professional graphic artists plastering their large full-color ads across a major city in which you can't swing a cat without hitting a designer. There's just no excuse.

P.S., it's even wrong in the HTML on the web site:

©20022015 Christopher League