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Icons and their uses

:::points to icon, in lieu of yet another Oscar comment:::

I've been thinking about icons lately.

(Well, actually I've been thinking about the kerfuffle about the Russian hamster-skin coats on sale in Scotland and if wearing one would make you want to go round and round on the London Eye and whether Clare Short has finally lost her mind, but I assume we all prefer a diet of relentless trivia here.)

What makes us choose the icons we have? I know that some of it is "oooh lovely" (the icons of oxoniensis, dtissagirl, iamsab and saava spring to mind) or the joy of sarcasm, but something must speak to us about our icons to make us choose them.



They're significant when it comes to the LJ identity too. I love a good icon that sends me into paroxysms of envy and I get very confused when two people whose journals I read regularly have the same or very similar icons.

Sometimes, I think, they're the haiku of LJ -- as much meaning as possible compressed into a tiny little space, showing who we are through team/person/artist, favoured shiny object/person, leisure love (I'm thinking of those pen icons) or snark of choice.

Sometimes I think they're the soccer shirt of LJ, proclaiming allegiance and setting out boundaries. For example, I notice that a lot of slashers use the slashy icons. While this is pretty much a "well, duh" observation, it does work as a way of discouraging the interest of anyone who might happen upon the journal who dislikes slash, while offering a welcome mat to anyone who does like slash to read further.

Some are dependent on intimate knowledge of an episode or fanon. One of the most best icons I've seen like that is this one, used by cofax7 and made by fourteenlines


it depends heavily for its effect on knowing what follows. Anyone who's a fan will instantly say "that's brilliant".

It divides between the we, who have seen the show and love it enough to understand a message from just one episode of a four-year run, and the not-we, who see a bird in goggles in a desert.

Another icon like that that I think is brilliant belongs to kita (who has many wonderful and funny icons). It also depends on knowledge of what happened in one episode and the resonances that have carried through, summed up in that one line



As Dean began his run, I noticed a lot more icons with political content. I think my favourite was this somewhat partisan one of lenadances, made by jood if memory serves



I wonder whether we're going to see more political icons as the run-up to the US election begins. I can't imagine any Brit on LJ could be arsed to make a pro-candidate icon, though I expect I might see some pro-Kerry and pro-Bush icons about the place.

Then again, sometimes they're about us. Often they're about our cats and the comfort of seeing a much-loved picture on the page.



So I'd be interested in hearing, in a meme-ish sort of way:

1. What's your favourite icon at the moment?

,

I think. Still. It makes me laugh to see Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor in Corrie-style drag. Also, it has a private jokey vibe because it's from the video of I want to Break Free

2. Which of your icons have you had the longest, what is it, and what do you think it is that appeals to you and makes you keep it?



Farscape. John alone in a jail cell, afraid. I like it because it's pretty with all the green and because it sometimes reflects the way I feel. It's a very quiet picture, and they're also the ones that tend to stay in the list

3. What do you look for when you're choosing? The funny? The pretty? The fandom/interest appropriate? The personal?

I like funny and pretty but I get bored with them very quickly. I do not like personal because people do not need to know what I look like and I have no cute pets. The ones that stay tend to be quiet pictures, like lovely broody Tom, or Kirsty

4. Animated icons. Good, okay in small amounts, or bloody annoying?

Good, in small numbers and without much blinking

5. Is posting with the same icon as someone else the equivalent of going to a wedding and wearing the same dress as the bride's sister? Or worse, her brother?

No

6. Any kind of icons you don't like?

Blinking anime icons, non-worksafe ones. That's just bloody inconsiderate

7. If LJ removed the icon function tomorrow, would it bother you enough to make you migrate elsewhere?

No. But I'd miss it.

8. Pick, say five or so icons, that work for you or made you sit up and take notice (Or if you can't be arsed with all that right-click, img src crap, point to the user who has it and describe)

I like ropo's icons. So pleasingly retro, and different and funny. This is one example




Funny



Sort of brilliant but probably the most disturbing icon I've ever seen. By wikdsushi





saava's icons are genius

And this one of JET's cracks me up








* * *

And now

Randomised first 20 MP3s this morning (total play count, according to iTunes)

1. Brighter Than Sunshine - Aqualung (8, a current favourite)
2. Morning Song - Kathryn Williams (1)
3. Walking 2 Hawaii - Tom McRae (3, but just reinstalled it)
4. Fell In Love With A Boy - Joss Stone (6)
5. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers (5)
6. Overlap - Ani Di Franco (1)
7. Molly's Chambers - Kings of Leon (2)
8. Wild Horses - The Sundays (3)
9. Keep Myself Awake - Black Lab (7)
10. Driftwood - Travis (1)
11. Meeting in the Aisle - Radiohead (25. It's an instrumental I play when working)
12. Metal Mickey - Suede (2)
13. Watching the Detectives - Elvis Costello (2)
14. Wide Open Space - Mansun (1)
15. Heroes - David Bowie (8)
16. A Little Respect - Wheatus (2)
17. Last One Standing - Neil Finn (10)
18. Saint - Texas (1, but I only just reinstalled it)
19. Damn Dog - Manic Street Preachers (2)
20. How to Disappear Completely - Radiohead (8)

The 10 MP3s I play most often
1. I Aint Scared of Lightning - Tom McRae
2. An Ending (Ascent) - Brian Eno
3. Save Me - Remy Zero (shut up)
4. Meeting in the Aisle - Radiohead
5. Blue - Lucinda Williams
6. White Flag - Dido
7. Caught by the River - Doves
8. Strange and Beautiful - Aqualung
9. Teardrop - Massive Attack
10. Everything's Not Lost - Coldplay

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
lilydale
Mar. 2nd, 2004 07:11 am (UTC)
1. LJ as haiku!

2. I have no real icon opinions as I'm usually in the "oooh lovely" camp, just noticing the pretty and moving on. Except for my own icons, which I covet. Oh, and animated icons used to make me want to take hostages, but I've grown to like ones that aren't all flashy and super fast moving. In moderation. Neenering a bonus.

3. Powderfinger must not be on iTunes. Ditto "Further."

4. I like that Remy Zero song.

5. If you're bored at work, email me! (/end selfishness)
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 2nd, 2004 02:29 pm (UTC)
3. No, all of them are. As is about 30 tracks-worth of Teenage Fanclub but none of it came up

4. Well, good. I feel better

5. Done.
se_parsons
Mar. 2nd, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
I am all pleased you like Ropo's icon because the source picture is from the same place as THIS one, a magazine from the 1960s that I inherited from my Nana. The hairstyles were so awful, I had to scan them.

Of course the snarky brilliance is all hers.
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 2nd, 2004 03:45 pm (UTC)
I do like them. I like them as pictures. Snarky brilliance is an added bonus
ropo
Mar. 2nd, 2004 09:08 am (UTC)
Awww, you like me; you really like me! ::snicker:: Thanks, K!
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 2nd, 2004 04:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, Sally.
thassalia
Mar. 2nd, 2004 10:02 am (UTC)
Sometimes, I think, they're the haiku of LJ -- as much meaning as possible compressed into a tiny little space, showing who we are through team/person/artist, favoured shiny object/person, leisure love (I'm thinking of those pen icons) or snark of choice.

I love this idea - and think it's part of the appeal of the 50 icon thing, having all of these little moments available to instantly put out there. I love having new icons that do this, that strike a moment or a fancy, but I tend to use my standard icon because it just does exactly that - represents about three things about me on a regular basis:)

What a nice post to stroll through this morning! Thank you.
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 2nd, 2004 04:24 pm (UTC)
I tend to use my standard icon because it just does exactly that - represents about three things about me on a regular basis:)

I always have 10 that don't much shift. I think a lot of people do have comfort icons that work for them.
thassalia
Mar. 2nd, 2004 05:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's knowing that when I see that icon, I'll grin and nod and be pleased that it's out there, attached to my user name, saying something different to everyone else that sees it:)
corianderstem
Mar. 2nd, 2004 10:32 am (UTC)
I dunno 'bout all that, but your current icon is really damn funny.
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 3rd, 2004 03:11 am (UTC)
Thank you. It seemed like the thing to do.
(Deleted comment)
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 3rd, 2004 04:08 am (UTC)
I do judge people by their icons. And books by their covers. At least, for the brief moment it takes me to scan a friends or friends' friends page. That makes me a terrible person, doesn't it?

No, I think it's natural in that first instant. But also I think that doesn't last for long.

For one thing, I wanted to make it animated so one could follow the red light, but despite your clear instructions, I'm failing on an important step. I need to email you again. *sigh*

It could be that you're working with a version of photoshop where those instructions don't work -- I wrote them from Photoshop Elements, so I have no idea which parts correspond with which version of Photoshop proper.

As for your icons, I like the Worrynet picture and the nude mouse. But particularly the Worrynet one.
angstville
Mar. 2nd, 2004 05:30 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love icons and have absolutely no talent whatsoever in the making of them. I say *thank god* that people like yourself, ropo and em meredith have felt sufficiently sorry for me and made them for me. I can size a photo, but that's about it. And, yes, that includes adding text. *g*

I use them to define the "mood" or "theme" of my entry, or what my latest obsession is. (The Clooney icons have been put away for awhile now save my Hoochi Icons you made me *g*) I never use personal photos of myself, others or pets. I'm a pop culture junkie and this is a perfect way to express that.

Now that I'm pondering all of this, I have to ponder some new ones - it's time for a new batch! *g*
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 3rd, 2004 04:09 am (UTC)
Well, if there's anything you want, let me know
iamsab
Mar. 2nd, 2004 06:37 pm (UTC)
holy gogglestrap!
(the icons of oxoniensis, dtissagirl, sabine101 and saava spring to mind)

Holy good company, batman! Um. My iconage can't TOUCH the stuff those other girls can do, but it's an honor just being nominated. *g*

In related news:

As far as animated icons go -- I prefer the sort where the base image stays the same and the text animates; some people have actually done some really beautiful icons this way, but, of course, I can't think of them off the top of my head.

Aside from the usual suspects, I'm also drawn to the icons of septicemic, nullsechs, and neaf, in a whole different way from the multi-layered translucent icons of saava or dtissagirl. People like Neaf and 06 have some of the cleanest, most powerful, simple icons I've seen, and I'm always impressed.

Additionally, I don't want to conceive of a world where LJ disabled icons. My frail emotional state couldn't handle it.

5. Is posting with the same icon as someone else the equivalent of going to a wedding and wearing the same dress as the bride's sister? Or worse, her brother?

It's like sleeping with her brother.

6. Any kind of icons you don't like?

The icon snob in me gets very turned off by icons that squish or skew the base image and don't maintain the right aspect ratio of the picture. So, you know, you get Silly Putty Head Sean Astin, or Stringbean Head Howard Dean. I always want to ask the folks with 'em if they'd let me resize their icons *for* them. All in the name of a more beautiful world, naturally. *g*

For everything else, check multi_pass, where the folks are doing some awesome stuff with Robot.

K, see above re: good company, I am flattered beyond belief. Also, convinced you're just buttering me up and then you're gonna try and sell me a used car.
infinitemonkeys
Mar. 3rd, 2004 04:28 am (UTC)
Re: holy gogglestrap!
Aside from the usual suspects, I'm also drawn to the icons of septicemic, nullsechs, and neafthemighty, in a whole different way from the multi-layered translucent icons of saava or dtissagirl. People like Neaf and 06 have some of the cleanest, most powerful, simple icons I've seen, and I'm always impressed.

I hadn't seen those last three before but yes, simplicity is much to be craved. I tend to clutter things up in pursuit of the multilayered look when sometimes I think that something simple would work better. I should probably say something tedious here about learning curves, but it's true.

K, see above re: good company, I am flattered beyond belief. Also, convinced you're just buttering me up and then you're gonna try and sell me a used car.

No, but I have this bridge...
cofax7
Mar. 8th, 2004 03:13 pm (UTC)
I meant to say...
Farscape. John alone in a jail cell, afraid. I like it because it's pretty with all the green

This is my favorite of all your icons, I think. Because it's Farscape, and because it's beautiful. There are a couple of other people out there in LJ-land who use the same cap, and it confuses me, because I really associate this image with you.

Although the Pants and Sod Off and Gollum at the Oscars all are lovely in their own ways.

It's blasphemy, I know, but I like the text you choose for your icons more than almost anyone's. Saava's may be prettier but yours are the wittiest around.

... and I'm not just saying that as a recipient of your iconist munificence. *g*
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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