Monday, June 26, 2006

Icons, Avatars and Modern Heraldry


Blogland was a war zone last week.
Everything from minor skirmishes to major battles.
Even shot at a fish in a barrel myself.
They do say it's a fight to get published and a constant struggle to maintain territory, whether you're a mercenary soldier, belong to a band of rebels or are part of the palace guard.

I am contemplating a metaphor here, all because of some comments on icons yesterday.
The lions of England, the lilies of France...
Colour-coded. Immediate visual identifiers. Immensely practical. Especially on battle fields...
One can consider the icon that heads a blog and compliments a comment as the modern equivalent of a heraldric device, an armorial bearing, a blazon - and also a useful, if minor, part of a merchandizing method, a "branding."

Daisy, at present, uses an elegant sillouette.
Savannah, a mysterious female.
Sela's is in-your-face bodacious.
December, with her third since I first encountered her blog, provides a rather beautiful winter landscape.
James, like me, uses a simple photograph.
Jason, whose contest is still on-going, selected a remote homestead as iconic.

That's just a sample.
Wonder how much attention we should pay to our personal symbols - particularly our posting icons - whether we are out-of-work mercenaries, mere slogging foot soldiers or certified members of an elite company.
Examine your reaction to the various avatars you've seen hither and yon.
What do you think of it all?

BTW, Flood has another excellent interview up with Forrest this day.

42 comments:

Ric said...

Contemplation. Sitting on the rocks in the river, listening to the water tumble by, always changing, always different - yet the same.
That's mine.

For others, I don't pay that much attention. Though I do like Erik's and Bernita's.

Flood said...

Thank you once again for your supposrt on the interviews.

For a long time, I didn't think avatars were important, until I was recognizing people more quickly because of them.

They really are a pratical tool to identify people in a long list of comments. I'd like to change mine, but I worry about losing what little identity I've built up so far.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric.
Yours, to me, identifies your style - simple, yet vastly complex - a hand-full of water dipped from the river of life.

Bernita said...

I like yours, Flood, an excellent name-pun in the long and honourable heraldric tradition.
Suggests excitement, drama.

Dennie McDonald said...

shoot - I have my icon on a t-shirt w/ my website on it... it's all about product identification - when you're hopping around and you see oh like flood lightening ('cause I can see it beside the comment box) you think, "hey, Flood's been here" etc.

I don't know how much it identifies w/ us on a personal level but... damn this is all too deep w/ only one cup of coffee (yeah I know - me and my coffee)

Bernita said...

The icon attached to your post says clearly " happy writer," Dennie.
The cute little avatar on your blog keeps changing.

Jaye Wells said...

I really struggled with the idea of using my photograph. I don't know why I hesistated. Perhaps I was aware of the old adage about one speaking a thousand words. I didn't want my picture to influence how people read me. Would it take some of the mystery out of it? Would I be taken less seriously? I don't know the answer.

I think this is a great topic. I'd be interested to see other's thoughts.

Bernita said...

I don't know the answer either, Jaye.
I suspect there is no "best" answer - though I think we should consider the question in terms of future marketing.
I used a picture because it was (a) recent, and (b) I wasn't using a pseudonym ie. I was 'real", (c) mild pleasure out of profile "profile."
My tiny mind never went further than that.

Sela Carsen said...

While the photo of me is real, it's also a bit of a joke. I'll start getting creeped out by it in another day or two and take it down. Who knows what I'll replace it with.

My face is not an option. I wasn't photogenic to begin with, but I've had Bell's Palsy and even almost 6 years on, I still look like a circus freak on acid in photos.

I love seeing avatars, though. I think they're telling. Either of a statement the author is making as whole or as an expression of the moment.

Bernita said...

Get a real kick out of it, Sela, and the story behind it and the log line at the top of your blog as well.

Reminds me of the time I innocently compared faces and a guy said "Faces? Who looks at faces...let's you and me take a walk."

Ric said...

Sela, for those of us with a decidedly sexual bent, your avatar is delightful. Inviting, accessible, warm, mothering............. okay, I have to stop now.

Sela Carsen said...

Dude. If your sex is bent, you should see a doctor. ;)

Does bawdy humor go along with inviting and mothering? *gg*

Flood said...

Bernita, sorry to bother but just a note that the URL in my name on this entry is missing a letter.

http://floodflashes.blogspot.com/

ali said...

Don't pay any attention to them. Probably why I don't have one! I'll glance at them, but I don't remember them or connect them with anything.

So sorry if they do mean something deep. I'm afraid it goes over my head :).

Bernita said...

Oh, damn.
Thank you, Flood.
Sorry.
Hope it's fixed now.

Some do, some don't, Ali.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Listen Place Mat guy...behave! (reference to Ric in case you haven't read his delightful life story).

I like to see what people really look like, but I do find delight in avatars....I especially like flood's, Dennie's, and a guy I know named Curmudgeon.

Bernita I automatically like yours cause it's a photo of you, but I especially like the picture flood used of you in the interview!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bonnie.
Wish you would use that photo of you with the fan. So beautiful.

Wasn't going to mention it, but Ric - Sela gotcha!

Check his blog. There's a link to a profile of him, a couple of short posts down. Ric is no Newbie.

jason evans said...

Bernita, very perceptive! I do treat my avatar as a kind of brand. I don't think everyone needs, or wants, to go that route, but I do get kind of attached to avatars regardless of their purpose. When people change them, it takes me time to get comfortable again.

Ric said...

Nice to see everyone's humor is alive and well this morning.

Of course, there were a numb-er of other -ah- thoughts...

But Bonnie is reading today.

Ric said...

Hey, just went to Sela's Profile page - says under the avatar to click for full size.

Damn, that didn't work......

Savannah Jordan said...

Jumping into this convo might be like putting my feet in my mouth, but here goes...

My avatar pic if from Victoria Fraces upcoming Dark Horse release, Favole, Stone Tears 2.

The funny thing, I didn't know where it came from when I started using it. It ended up being the thing that made the DH Press editor remember me (embarrassing story I might have to share sometime in full). Also, three people thought that it was a painting of ME in garb. It gets better... my own SISTER thought it was me!

As to others' icons, I love the real life ones. It gives you a great idea of who the writers really are. Flood's pic catches my eye everytime -- I love lighning. :)

Bernita said...

Aw, Jason...

Careful there, Ric...

Bernita said...

It's quite exotic, Savannah, and fits your stuff.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Small world, Sela. I had Bell’s Palsy almost 9 years ago. I have little muscle usage on the left side of my face and look lopsided and geeky when I smile or laugh--which means that I look that way a lot. LOL I’m a little self-conscious when first meeting people or doing speaking engagements, but then I relax and forget about it and just be myself. Don’t like seeing photos of myself much though because it doesn’t look like me. All in all it’s made me a stronger person.

At first I used my photo for my avatar, Bernita, but it was 2-years old and 35-pounds thinner than I was at the time. If I’m going to use a photo I want it to be current and representative of what I look like now rather than what I wished I looked like. ;-) When I did my blog and website redesign recently, I decided to go with the silhouette I created for it and I’m happy with that for now.

In between, I used a vintage Theda Bara as Cleopatra (silent movie version) photo for my avatar and really got a kick out of it because it was so dramatic and funny. It suited my personality and writing style. The trouble was, people thought it was actually me and kept complimenting me on it. Ooh, you look so good, Daisy! Where did you get that sexy outfit? LOL

You mentioned yesterday about my using the cover for Wicked Payback for my avatar, Bernita. Actually, that’s what I use for MySpace. I’ve had such positive response for the cover (which I adore) and so figured I’d get as much mileage out of it as possible. :-D

As for other people’s avatars/icons--whatever they use is fine with me. The only thing that makes me twinge a bit is when a writer (male or female) uses a photo that’s 20-years old, or 50-pounds thinner, etc. When I see them in person the difference is vast. I can’t understand why anyone would want to purposely set themselves up for embarrassment like that.

kmfrontain said...

I don't use an avatar on blogger. Can't think of one that would fit this conservative crowd that still indicates where I'm at as a writer. But on Livejournal I use a cute little coyote cowboy with a nice gun. The bigger jpg I created it from is nicer, and looking at the avatar always makes me remember it. Plus it's impish and fun looking. :D

Bernita said...

"Impish" is a good word, KM!

Sorry, Daisy, somehow can't imagine you as looking anything but drop-dead gorgeous - pounds, Bell's palsy, be damned.

For The Trees said...

My face is my Icon. Worship me.

My face is my Avatar. Recognize me.

My face is my Herald. Rally to me.

My face is my Brand. Pay me.

I didn't want to go searching for a viable image to use for an avatar. So I defaulted to my face. It's what's on the back of my books, anyway. Thought a little promotion might help. Can't hurt, anyway.

Bernita said...

Definitely Papa Hemingway, Forrest.

Gabriele C. said...

I wanted something Roman and sword-y. OK, the guy is from the infamous King Arthur movie and not much of a Roman except in the mind of the producers, but it's a copyright issue with pics, and I suppose movie stills avaliable all over the net are less likely to be infringement than a painting.

Bernita said...

I like your icon very much, Gabriele.
Fitting to your work.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, yes, my characters do play with pointy things a lot.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I just thought I'd come over here and vent....I can't get @#^$#*&^%Blogger to publishe my post for today...Actually it says it's published...I just can't see it...egads, I must have gone blind! *sigh*

Bernita said...

The last post I see on your blog, Bonnie, is dated Friday.
So it's not just you.

Shesawriter said...

Re Avatars...

What's interesting is that I hate cats. Maybe this is some Freudian stuff that I've yet to tap into. LOL!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Absence of avatar may be noticed to the right of this comment.-->

Still haven't found the "essence of me" pic yet. But I'm looking!

I like to contemplate the avatars people use, and like Dennie says, it's nice to instantly recognize that someone you know has been to another blog and commented.

December Quinn said...

I'm still looking for one I really like. I had the pic of myself because I thought, "Everyone else has pics of themselves, and they look so nice." But I photograph so badly, and I got tired of looking at my own fat face. (I'm not actually that fat, at all.) It didn't really look like me, so I started feeling wierd about it. Like everyone who saw it was seeing all the flaws I saw, and thinking, "eeeew."

One day I might find one that is perfect. But on livejournal I have 100 icons and switch them around-I use a layout where I have one icon for the whole blog, but each individual post gets a new one.

For The Trees said...

Bernita, thanks loads for the plug for the interview on Flood's blog. I got truly great feedback, including yours, and I feel like I got years of validation in that one day's commentaries.

Thanks again.

Bernita said...

You are welcome, Forrest.
Such a small thing to do.
And it was a great interview.

That's an interesting approach, December - different icons for different posts - like a mood ring or similar.

Those eyes crack me up, Tanya. Feel like that, often.

Depends on the message, I think, Sonya. One thing, it's not carved in stone and one is free to change the icon if one's approach, theme, purpose, etc. changes.Or just if one gets friggin' bored with the one in use.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oooh! She knows my name! :-)

You are sharp, Bernita!

Bernita said...

Been dipping into your archives...

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