Bic boils down the world's handwriting into one average typeface

As time marches on and the world grows smaller, we're left with the understanding that we - you, me, and folks across the globe - are more alike than we realize. Except, you know, when it comes to handwriting. To commemorate selling billions of pens you've seen countless times in your life, Bic has set out to create what it calls the Universal Typeface: a series of characters created by basically averaging thousands of writing samples from people across the world.

You can check out the typeface in its current state right here, but be warned: Bic is taking submissions through August so what you see now isn't necessarily the final product. If we're being honest, the Universal Typeface doesn't look entire like one of the handwritten examples you'd find one of those of hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss free font sites. What's perhaps more interesting is seeing how the "average" look of a letter differs from country to country; Japan's capital "G" has a distinct, free-floating tail, while India's is one single line with an aquiline hook. And Egypt's "G"? it barely has that tell-tale tail at all. You can drill down to compare between genders and occupations too, but (as Smithsonian Magazine points out) the differences are far less satisfying. Itching to add your own chicken scratch to the mix? Feel free to contribute, but you'd better not mess with Antarctica's brilliant E unless you actually live there.