icons — please vote

For a long time I’ve had making a “favorites icon” (“favicon,” for short) on the long to-do list for this site. These icons are small images, just 16 pixels by 16 pixels, that can appear in bookmarks for a Web site and in the address bar. In some browsers, such as Opera, they also appear on the browser tabs, which is a nice touch.

Probably the most common look for icons is achieved by incorporating a letter of the alphabet: YahooYahoo's icon -- a red Y with an exclamation mark , Google Google's icon: a large blue capital G , Opera Opera Web browser's icon: a large red shadowed O, the New York Times New York Times's icon -- an ornate T , Forumosa Forumosa's icon -- an F .

Some icons use Chinese characters: Wenlin Wenlin's icon: 'Wenlin' in Chinese characters , No-Sword Chinese character 'wu2' (without, nothingness); icon for the No-Sword blog .

And some are more abstract or pictorial: Notetab text editor Notetab text editor's icon: a white cross against a red background , the Panda’s Thumb The Panda's Thumb icon -- a tiny image of a panda, Photo Net Photo Net's icon -- an image of a camera .

This being the sort of site it is, I’m not going to use a Chinese character — not unless I could fit romanization in as well. And I doubt that can be done within a 16 by 16 square.

Ideally, I’d like to have something in the style of Xu Bing‘s “new English calligraphy.” Here’s roughly the effect I’d be shooting for:
the word 'pinyin' written in the style of Chinese characters, after the method of artist Xu Bing

(That’s “P-I-n-Y-I-n”, in case you’re wondering.)

Unfortunately, however, that sort of thing doesn’t work very well when reduced down to icon size. About the best I could come up with is this: icon for Pinyin Info . But I’m not so sure about that.

I’d like to get input from my readers. Which of the following do you prefer?

  1. — largely the same as no. 1
  2. — the P is light green
  3. — the P is white
  4. — faux Xu Bing
  5. other (please specifiy)

Please let me know what you think with a comment here or through e-mail.

If you have an image you’d like to use for your site’s icon but don’t have the software to turn it into icon format, you could try this online favicon generator. It will reduce your image to the correct size and put it in .ico format.

Then place the resulting image, which should be named favicon.ico for maximum browser compatibility, in the root directory of your site. To make Internet Explorer happy, you could also add the following to the head of your HTML:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="/favicon.ico" />

In other Pinyin Info image news, I’ve added a script to the Pinyin Info home page that will put up random images and links to readings on this site. I hope it helps let people know that there’s a lot more on this site than might appear at first glance.

Finally, since logos and icons are often associated with “ideographs,” this seems like a good place to recommend John DeFrancis’s reading on the ideographic myth, for anyone who hasn’t read that already.

11 thoughts on “icons — please vote

  1. I like number three. The Vietnamese have done something like that for a long time in some kinds of signs, scrunching up the letters so that at first glance they look like Chinese characters. (An example.)

    But it’s usually more readable than xu bing since they keep the linear order intact (placement of letters reminds me of hangul).

  2. I dig number 5 a lot, and I think it works well with the kind of site this is. To maybe overexplain, just as someone who starts out thinking Chinese characters are mystical ideographic portals to Platonicidealworld ends up (hopefully) understanding more about how they work as a down-to-earth writing system, that favicon looks like an exotic Chinese seal script or Hangul at a glance but upon closer examine resolves into… pinyin.

  3. Excuse me, I’m stupid. I meant I like number 5 (five).
    You could probably figure that out from the rest of my comments, but …

  4. I’m a bit late on this, but I’d vote for number 6: other.
    If you want to emphasise pinyin, then go for a simple word *with tone mark*. What about zi (character) with the 4th tone above it.

    Your current one ‘pinyin’ is too long a word, so you have to scrunch it up until it’s unreadable, and of course you’ve lost your tones …

  5. No. 1 had the text written with the Photoshop setting of “crisp.” No. 2 uses “strong.” But there’s probably not a lot of difference when the palette is only 16 by 16.

    I’ve had a few more votes via e-mail for No. 5, so I’ll probably stick with that.

    Someone did suggest another method, which I wasn’t able to get quite right. But here’s something like it.

    And I’ve added an icon for the Sino-Platonic Papers site.

  6. Hi, Kat:
    The Xu Bing (Xu2 Bing1 / ??) I was referring to (see links above) is a well-known Chinese artist who now lives in the West. I mention his work from time to time here because he does a lot of work with what appear to be but usually are not Chinese characters. His works can sell for a lot of money, so maybe you ought to try coming up with some Xu Bing originals of your own!

  7. How did you managed to do your name in english square calligraphy?
    I am trying to find the program, which ran on the exhibition of Xu Bing but I never found something which could help me to translate normal english fonts to square words. Do you have a clue?



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