Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet

Those Funny Icons, There

June 2012

By Mike Gould

“What’s that funny icon there on the desktop?”
      Quote from the very first Small Biz and the Internet article, March 1998

I was reminded of this when working on a site where a number of Social Media (SM) links were called for, and implemented with small icons along the top of the page. I had the standard links that most well-connected sites use: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But there are a boat-load of other such sites out there that I see linked from the various places I visit on the Internet; what the heck are those more obscure sites going on about?

So I decided to do a bit of research and came up with a guide to some of the icons you might not be aware of. I’m skipping most of the more common ones (Yahoo, Flickr, etc.), as my well-read, hip, and ever so knowledgeable readership already know these. In fact, you may already be more hip than me, as the following are ones I may have heard of, but haven’t used – maybe you, you power user you, visit these every day.

Below you will find the icon, the URL, the site’s intro blurb, and my quick summary. Keep in mind that the icons aren’t always depicted as below, as styles change and users are free to make up their own, or modify those from the sites in question.

Delicious - “Delicious helps you find cool stuff and collect it for easy sharing. Dig into stacks created by the community, and then build your own!”

This is a community-driven social book marking service where you can share links to sites you find useful. You can also group sites into “stacks”, lists of sites with similar topics.

StumbleUpon - “We help you easily discover new and interesting stuff on the Web. Tell us what you like, and we’ll introduce you to amazing web pages, videos, photos and more that you wouldn’t have found on your own.”

Another web site-finding service, which uses opinions from its membership as a means of collaborative filtering. This involves a process that combines human entries with machine learning of personal preferences to produce communities of people with similar interests.

Digg – (No intro blurb, or any description at all on the front page. If you have to ask, I guess you are not hip enough to belong, or something…)

Digg is a news website, a conglomerator that lists news stories that are ranked by their readership. You can vote stories up or down, which changes the order in which they are listed on the site.

Slashdot – “News for nerds – Stuff that matters”

This is sort of cheating, as I have mentioned this site in several previous articles, but this is so cool I have to go for it here. Slashdot is another sort of news site, where users can add their comments to the stories and articles. This leads to long series of commenting, which is often quite hilarious. I read this everyday. If you go there and find a story you find interesting, you may already be a nerd…

Slideshare – “SlideShare is the best way to share presentations, documents and professional videos.”

This is a sort of Flickr for the PowerPoint crowd. Users can upload, download and generally share presentations in a bunch of formats: ppt, PDF, Keynote, OpenOffice, etc. Presentations can be rated and commented upon. Originally intended as a means for businesses to share slideshows with employees, it has expanded to include entertainment shows. It counts among its users The White House, NASA, IBM and other well-known companies.

qik Qik – “Share videos privately with family and friends, automatically post to social networks, or broadcast to blogs and video sites.”

Qik is a mobile live video streaming service that also supports video conferencing. This was one of the first ways to connect your video-equipped phone or camera to the Internet. It was bought by Skype in early 2011, and Skype was acquired by Microsoft four months later, but Qik retains the brand and web site.

Vimeo –

“Vimeo is a respectful community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the videos they make. We provide the best tools and highest quality video in the universe.”

There are a bunch of video services out there, but Vimeo attracts primarily the indie filmmaker crowd. Prominent users include the White House and Britney Spears (but probably not at the same time).

tumblr Tumblr – “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.” Yet another blogging platform, like WordPress and others. Quite popular, Tumbler hosts over 46 million blogs as of early 2012. The younger web crowd are big Tumbler users; half of its visitors are under the age of 25.

lastfm – “ lets you effortlessly keep a record of what you listen to from any player. Based on your taste, recommends you more music and concerts!”

This is a UK-based music site that tracks your music listening history and recommends other tunes based on this information. It features the usual social networking features such as shared playlists and has invented its own vocabulary: “scrobbled” means the info about your current listening is being transferred to its vast database.

Design Bump – (No blurb)

Here is another aggregator of content from the Web, this time aimed at the designer/web makers out there. This is like Digg for illustrators: articles, tutorials, and features from a variety of sites are listed and voted up or down by the membership. To “bump” is a common web term meaning to vote an item up in the listings.

Example of a site with SM icons:

Mike Gould was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Digital Photography mega-mall, builds laser display devices, performs with the Illuminatus 2.2 Lightshow, and welcomes comments addressed to

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