solarcat: (Gen -- Pants Down)
[personal profile] solarcat
Default icons.

Most of us have them, I would venture. But in changing my default icon recently, I got to thinking about how we choose default icons.

I know that in some cases, I associate icons with people almost as strongly as I associate their online handles (which is saying something, since in many cases the only name I have for someone is their online handle!). For example, long before I was friends with [ profile] sansets, I knew her default icon (and in fact I had a moment of "Oh, hey, YOU!" during the friending process, which I am admitting here only because it's relevant to the topic at hand *shame*). BTW, [ profile] sansets? You are never allowed to change your icon, or I will have to hurt you~, okay? All my <3, Me.

That's just a tiny example, but I was thinking about it. What impact does a default icon have? Do we draw conclusions about users based on their default icon? If, for instance, a default icon isn't overly polished, or if it's pixelated, or hard to read, or not 100x100px, or any number of other things that might be considered "faults", does that affect our perception of the user the icon is representing?

I guess I'm pondering this because icons ARE representational in the LJ/DW-verse, where we often communicate solely by text. The icons a we use may be the only visual representation of us that our friends and acquaintances see.

So besides the question of perception (that is, what impact do you think others' icons/icon choices have on your perceptions of them), I'm also wondering what, if any, consideration goes into selecting your own default icon. Have you had the same icon for years and years, or does it change more frequently? Do you prefer a more general image for your default, or is it a fandom-based icon? Do you mean your icon to make any sort of statement, or represent something about you?

Because I always try to do a bit of self-analysis when I do these sorts of posts, I guess I'll take a look at my own icon, as well as my perception of others'.

It's sort of embarrassing to admit, but I think I do tend to make a first-impression judgment based on icons. For instance, if I see someone posting using a blurry or sort of amateurish icon (where the type is blurred or can't be seen against the background, generally sort of unpolished), I do catch myself thinking, not necessarily anything bad about the person, but perhaps that they're newer to LJ, haven't been around long enough to find icon-makers and snag some of their lovely creations.

Examining that, it's obviously a faulty assumption, and one I shouldn't make, but it's interesting to me that I consider the use of "pretty" icons to indicate familiarity with and activity in the LJ/DW-sphere. What I can't necessarily pin down is whether this comes from the general fact that the people I admire and who I know have been involved in the fannish community tend, on average, to have very nice icons (making it a top-down association), or whether it's a bottom-up association, meaning that I have perhaps encountered more newbie LJ users with amateurish icons. (I really don't feel like the word "amateurish" really captures what I'm talking about, and I'd be glad of suggestions on this. It's not the right word, but using a term like "bad" would be making a value judgment that I feel would be supremely unfair, here, so I'm trying to avoid that.)

As far as my own default icon goes, I have had several in my LJ career. The ones I can remember, at this point, are my Carmen Sandiego icon (which was generally a big hit--favorable perception based on nostalgia? Most of the comments I got about it were of the "OMG is that Carmen Sandiego?? I used to watch that show all the time!!" sort), my recent Misha Collins icon with Star Trek (2009)-inspired lens flare (obviously a fannish icon, which incorporated my current obsessions with both SPN and STXI), and this current one (which I am hard selecting rather than leaving to the "default" setting, because I want this entry to make sense if I ever change it again! XD ).

My current default icon I made myself, out of a stock photo I fell in love with at first sight. However, I've had it hanging around in my icon slots for nearly a year now, and it's only just become my default. I think my motivation was somewhat based in my inability to Stop Messing With Stuff, but also because I tend to view favorably (and remember) icons with simple, somewhat iconic (yes, yes) images. This icon image is one that spoke to me, and continues to speak to me, which is why it has eventually made its way to "default" status. As to what it says about me to outside observers, I have no idea. (Feel free to share your impressions, though!)

Hi there, [community profile] metafandomers! Yipe, okay, so my email didn't bother to give me comments all day yesterday; I didn't mean to ignore all of you!! D= I can't guarantee I'll reply to everybody, I think I'm just gonna hang out and participate in the discussion, at this point, but I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read and share your opinions! Also, I want to make it clear that by making this post, I'm not trying to insult anyone! Your icon is your personal choice; I'm interested in why and/or how you made that choice. *g*
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April 2013


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