Matt Galligan

How did my Google Reader logo become the “default”?

March 21st, 2013 · 11 notes

Google Reader icon by Matt Galligan

Five years ago, I was wanting to install Google Reader on my desktop with Fluid but noticed I couldn’t find a good icon for it at all. So I made one, and posted it to Flickr. I didn’t have any expectation when I posted it to Flickr – just that other people that wanted to have it could use it. A while later I stopped using Google Reader and forgot about this whole thing altogether.

Fast forward to now and Google Reader is getting shut down.

Note: Google Reader does have an official logo, and it looks like this:

So the big question for me was, how did my icon become the “default” one? I’m seeing it in so many blog posts now that Google Reader is getting shut down, as well as the fact that it’s also on the Wikipedia page for Google Reader. Here’s how I stumbled upon my own image:


How did this happen?

My only theory has to do with Google Image search. If you were to search for “Google Reader” there it looks something like this:


So the first image is some semi-fake looking logo, that is basically a combination of the official Google Reader logo, and the Google logo. What’s the second? My icon. What would most journalists probably grab? The slightly less fake-looking one.

Creative Commons, oh well?

What’s a bit of a bummer around all of this is that our remix culture has gotten ahold of this image and there’s basically no tracing it back to the original anymore. Even the Wikipedia page says that somehow it’s the “official” logo and copyright of Google. Now, I don’t particularly care but it should be noted that my original posting of this image was listed as Creative Commons: Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works. I only randomly happened upon seeing my own image elsewhere because of all of the big news around Google Reader. So what about all of the images that are out there, getting copied and derivative works made from every day? Something tells me this is going to be a really tough issue going forward.

UPDATE: I have since changed the original image’s Creative Commons license to CC-BY-SA.

For now, I’ll just be the unnamed creator behind the official unofficial Google Reader logo.

Tags: google readerdesigniconlogo