This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Friday Four: Big-Data Talent & Native App Typography

Self-referential kerning, bleeding-edge CSS, and more.

This week: a bleeding-edge CSS technique, the trouble with licensing fonts for native apps, and how to locate & retain data scientists.

Finding and keeping big-data talent
Everybody knows that people who can make sense of massive data flows for the purposes of analytics or business intelligence are in high demand and short supply. Writing in Tech Republic, John Weathington offers "advice for acquiring and integrating data scientists into your organization." Contrary to the common belief, Weathington asserts that there is no shortage of data scientists -- and that more will be coming online relatively quickly -- but "there's a shortage of proper expectations."

Everybody has big-data dreams, but nobody wants to pay big-data prices for these resources... A good data scientist can easily make $300 - $350K per year.... [or up to] $500K+ under the right conditions. So don't get frustrated when you cannot attract a quality data scientist for $120K plus free movie tickets every quarter.

Weathington goes on to educate about the culture that data scientists inhabit, "which is attached to their profession," and warns companies against doing anything to disrupt this culture once their quants arrive. He concludes, "If you're looking to reel in the big-data fish, make sure you have a big enough boat."


Self-referential kerning
Someone at Google has inserted an Easter egg smack in the middle of an otherwise ordinary page of search results. Do a Google search for "kerning." If you are unfamiliar with the word, it refers to the slight and subtle adjustments to the spacing between letters that designers make in order to render type most pleasing and readable at whatever size it is displayed.

On the results page, Google has inserted letterspacing into each instance of the word "kerning". This is not the way a designer would kern the word, but we take Google's point.

Randall Munroe, who writes xkcd, absolutely nails the reaction of the ordinary person upon first learning about the existence and prevalence of kerning in the type all around us.

CSS regions can auto-size
Here is a cutting-edge CSS technique that provides an example of the sort of content-driven responsiveness we talked about a week or two back. It's a way to declare a CSS region whose size depends on its content. This would be very useful for elements such as footnotes and pull quotes. To see auto-resizing regions in action you will need to get a recent nightly build of Webkit.

The sorry state of native app typography licensing
If you are developing a web property, and want to license a font for use therein, you can talk with any number of reputable type foundries that will quote you a reasonable license fee. But if you are developing an app for iOS or Android? All bets are off, writes Idan Gazit in this blog post. "Licensing typefaces for use in mobile apps is a lot like licensing for the web was a few years ago: nonstandard, confusing, and expensive. It is inexplicably harder and pricier to license type for native apps than it is for the web," Gazit writes.

The Friday Four gives a hat tip each week to Ron Miller, whose collection of five links for developers and IT pros runs weekly on

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