The look

As regular readers may have noticed, I’ve been tweaking the look of the blog lately. When I first started it I didn’t have a picture of my face at the website. Now I’m experimenting with a few ideas.

The current image at the top of the page might not be everybody’s idea of what they should see at a somewhat academic blog (and this may or may not make any sense to you depending on when you’re reading this, given that I may have changed things by then): Flames, guns – a few people have even said that I’m promoting violence. The same goes for the podcast with it’s heavy metal introduction, or the very phrase “say hello to my little friend” and its association with guns, or for that matter, the name of the website even before there was a blog: Beretta (for those who don’t know, the saying “Say Hello to my Little Friend” comes from the classic 1983 Gangster Movie Scarface, starring Al Pacino). The general idea is that I find the image to be fun, and in a way it depicts the way I like to ruthlessly “whack” bad ideas (and hopefully promote a few good ones along the way).

The latest renovations got me wondering a little more what blog readers make of a blog’s image. What sort of influence does it have over how much you like a blog? Does it ever seriously put you off? Do you like it / hate it? (No, I won’t be changing it for you.) Do you think a blog’s image (in particular, this blog’s image, as well as the podcast) can change whether or not you think of the blog as having an academic tone? If you were the head of an academic department, would you look at something like this and think… “Hmmmm, maybe I should ask Glenn to tone things down”?

I’m curious about your thoughts. To give an air of academic respectability to this inquiry, I could say that I’m doing a short study on the noncognitive factors that influence online research preferences.

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19 thoughts on “The look

  1. Tough question.. I’ve known you since before the blog, so am familiar with the kind of humour you have (crunchy frog!). I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s down to earth.

    Newcomers might not know how to take it, and depending on their background may have been sheltered from the movie, but perhaps if you had a static reference that explained how it relates to what the blog is about, then perhaps that might help.

    Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you won’t please everyone.

  2. Oh and I meant to say.. I absolutely LOVE the intro/outros. Let me know if you release an album or put them on iTunes because they are simply fantastic. What you did for Chris Date’s podcast is beautiful. The number of times I have listened to that intro over and over again…

    Classic (public domain!) hymns with a heavy metal edge, I can’t get enough. Seriously – if you have the time, you should produce radio length versions of those and your own compositions and stick them on iTunes. There is a massive audience, and even if only a small number sell, you’ve created an income for doing that other thing you like doing.

  3. They’re not public domain, I own the copyright to every episode of Say Hello to my Little Friend. They’re just free. I’m currently trying to get a couple of websites to stop using them improperly.

    And thanks Nathan 🙂

    EDIT – Oh wait, you meant the hymns that I used for some of the closing pieces. Yes, they’re public domain!

  4. Yes, referring to the hymns and hymn tunes themselves as public domain. Your renditions of them are obviously not public domain. Make hay!

  5. My wife and I listened to your ISOTS series, and generally loved it, but at one point you had an audio clip of a man’s tortured screams while being attacked with a chainsaw. Bit much perhaps? Or maybe you could come out with edited versions for those of us who don’t love horror?

    But other than that the series was great.

  6. You’re branding your blog in a way that distinguishes it from the normal schtick that everyone else does. And now that you’ve explained the connection, I’m all geeked about the image of the learned scholar listening patiently to the emotive slop that so many people consider to be “argument” before cutting them down with logic and rational thinking, all the while quipping “say hello to my little friend.” The site name and theme would have made a lot more sense over the last year or so if that image were evident up front. As it was, I just liked the cool gun pic.

    The current orange facial pic with the flames background is a little Alistair Crowley-esque. Or maybe Ozzy.

  7. if it doesnt look “professional” it is hard to take the author seriously. In your case it looks professional, but also quirky, which gives it character. But it also makes it a little more like a personal site than an academic blog. If you catch my drift.

    Also, I read blogs via an rss feed, so I once added, I rarely look at the actual site. And I find the commenting systems annoying as hell – I prefer a forum.

  8. Its fine on mine, I tested Opera, Chrome, Chromium, Firefox 4 and webkit on Linux and Windows.. I wonder if Bethyada has a plugin that might be causing it.. (some of the addons and stuff can do weird things)

  9. I love the idiosyncratic flavour and appearance of the blog. As someone says, it is professional-looking, just quirky, and I love this because not only is the style right up my alley, but it helps promote the idea that neither Christianity, academia, nor philosophy need necessarily be wooden, dull and lacking in excitement.

    Also, I would pay for good-quality heavy metal renditions of classic hymns!

  10. From a graphic design point of view, I’d saturate the oranges some so that it matches the blue and black better. It’s too bright and clashes with the more muted tones of the site. Just my opinion.

  11. I’ve always appreciated the theme. It provides personality without distracting from the academic content. It’s also particularly readable. Plenty of other blogs impair readability with cluttered layouts and/or poorly-chosen colour schemes.

    For your current portrait, I wonder whether blue-white flames would mesh better with the rest of the theme.

  12. How about have 2 themes/facades, one with the old cover, and one more “mainstream academic”, have people pick their favourite and see what happens. Facetious suggestion: every other day have a halo around your head instead of flames. Serious suggestion: keep the name and quote and music! I started it up the other day on my phone and my 15 year old son really liked it (I like that he likes it). (I guess you’re concerned whether your 50-some year old potential employer would like it…)

    Am I to understand that the music is actually performed by you? If so, impressive!

  13. Fire portrait MUCH better than the one with your hair pulled back like comic book guy. also the donate icon doesn’t line up with the rest of the asthetic, be a good chap and do something about it will you. 😛

  14. I find the image interesting and a bit iconoclastic. And attractive for that reason, I have to admit. It confronts me with my own hypocrisy around images of violence. I’m intrigued by the history and philosophy of war, but consider myself a pacifist; love the beauty of swords and feel superior to people who wear guns; won’t kill spiders, but have no mercy for cockroaches…. This is a purely personal reflection on your question. It’s a round-about way of saying that I found this site provoking enough, in content and image :), to come back to.

  15. Glenn, haters have to hate. It’s what they do. I’m pretty sure that people who get all up in arms about the gun, the flames, the name, whatever, who display crocodile tears about how offensive, scary and violent it all looks – are merely compensating for the fact that they really can’t be bothered or aren’t able to grapple with the actual arguments they see here.

    There’s always an excuse for people to take offence if they don’t like your message. Rest assured, they’ll find one.

  16. Hi Glenn

    I’ll just walk you through my thought processes …

    Heard about ‘say hello to my little friend’ on your apologetics315 interview. Not having seen any of the images, I was intrigued at the title and stereo-typically thought, ‘oh he must be referring to God’ … was surprised to find the gun in iTunes and it made me a little skeptical about the content but I thought I’d have a listen anyway. (It was a good A315 interview!) Fortunately the content has kept me here and digging deeper :). The ‘image’ (holistically speaking) has just come in my mind to be ‘cool’. My wife saw your photo and said you looked ‘scary’ maybe she said ‘demonic’ too (can’t remember).

    IMHO, the smoking gun on this banner works way better than the image in iTunes.

    I never would have made the connection between the gun and “the way I like to ruthlessly “whack” bad ideas (and hopefully promote a few good ones along the way).”

    In saying that though … I like the *not Christianised imagery* and think you should keep the concept of ‘say hello to my little friend’. I reckon: don’t change for the institute – change the institute to suit you 🙂

    oh btw – ‘beretta’ doesn’t stick in my mind, let alone beretta-online, ‘say hello to my little friend’ does.

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