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.

rebus writing Web tool

I just came across Woogle, which takes entered phrases and turns some or all of the words into pictures from Google searches. Basically, it’s a sort of rebus machine, especially if you play around with the spelling. Remember that the rebus principle is behind the creation of the Chinese-character writing system.

Here’s the result of one phrase I typed in:
Cat in the Hat -- rebus
(OK, it’s not a rebus. But those are a little harder to get to work.)

Woogle has a companion site named Toogle, which searches for the photo in Google that corresponds to an entered phrase and renders that photo in ascii art using the letters of the phrase itself.

Here, for example, is my poor-man’s Xu Bing of the phrase “Chinese characters”:
imitation Xu Bing ascii art