New technologies provoke immediate response, yet they also permit possibilities which may be slow to emerge, impeded by complicated and at times difficult prejudices and habits. Thirty years ago, software engineers began to equip page layout programs with special effects that delighted amateurs and horrified typographers. Rather than turn the customary blind eye, Shinn embraced the digital vernacular. Exploiting new OpenType capabilities, he configured glyphs to produce a cleanly overlapping outline of even stroke width, by means of precise drawing and kerning coupled with judiciously deployed contextual alternates. In plain text, Softmachine manifests close proximity: tight but not touching.