Long Zheng's blog – iStartedSomething.com – is way cool , and though he describes himself as “technophobic”, he has not only understood the meaning of Information Cards – he has applied his obvious talent to tweaking the icon:
A while ago, Microsoft began working on an icon to symbolize Information Cards. The download describes, â€œthis icon is intended to provide a common visual cue that Information Cards can be used to provide information to a site or program, similarly to how the RSS icon is used to indicate the availability of syndicated content.â€
If you donâ€™t know what InfoCards are, these are basically virtual cards containing identification information such as your name which can be sent and received by websites and web services. On Windows, this is implemented via the CardSpace technology. Other platforms have their own implementation but theoretically Information Cards are universal. If youâ€™re on Vista, type â€œCardSpaceâ€ into your start menu, make an InfoCard for yourself and use it on the demo site here.
I think the idea of an icon is great, especially in comparison to the RSS icon which not only serves as a symbol but also a promotional message to attract people to subscribe to content. On top of just indicating a website is â€˜InfoCards compatibleâ€™, it also spreads the word about InfoCards. However I wasnâ€™t too keen on the design. The purple was unique, but it wasnâ€™t very bright or vivid either. The roundness of the outside border didnâ€™t match the squareness of the inside cutout. But I did like the â€œiâ€, and how it is shaped like a person.
I had a stab at coming up with my own alternative design.
By no means itâ€™s perfect, for example some of the people who Iâ€™ve shown it to have said the colors are not very friendly and the Smart Card chip feature might mislead some people to believe this was a security device (although it can be). Iâ€™d love to get everyoneâ€™s feedback on whatâ€™s good and not good, as well as the Microsoft design.
I like the design because it seems to pack a bit more wallop per square millimeter – in smaller sizes the current one can easily be lost on the page. I'd like to hear other comments if people have any. On the other hand, there is a lot of legal work involved in making sure everyone can use a given icon, and I'm not sure if this would carry over from the current version to include the tweak.
By the way, in a nearby post Long Zheng talks about the film Ratatouille, which I will endorse as much as he does. But if I were discussing Anton Ego‘s role, I would point to the transformational role criticism ultimately plays as improbable genius unfolds before it. That's what's hard about it.