F-ing around on the Web
Now that I have your attention . . . .
Several months ago, there was a discussion in Fedora circles about the similarity between the Fedora Project logo — a very smart one that signifies a lot of different things (as outlined below) — and the Facebook “F” that is encapsulated in a rounded-off square.
This discussion started when someone related a story where a person approached the storyteller and mistook a Fedora button on a backpack for a Facebook button. I thought it was fairly innocuous at the time — yeah, they’re both F’s, but still, you have to be kind of — oh, I don’t know — lacking some basic observational skills to confuse the two.
Of course, when it happens to you, then the issue becomes a tad more clear.
Earlier in the week, I had coffee in beautiful downtown Felton at The White Raven — home of Larry’s Famous Chai (the Larry in question is not me; though as an aside, Felton could be a town that holds the distinction of having the most people named Larry, per capita, in the nation. But I digress . . . ). A woman sitting at the next table looked over at me — well, more specifically, looked over at my ThinkPad T30, which sports a Fedora F sticker next to the touchpad — and asked, “Excuse me, where did you get that Facebook sticker?
Frankly, I live for segues like this, as it gives me a chance to talk about Free/Open Source Software and Linux, upon which Facebook is based, no doubt. I explained that it was not a “Facebook” sticker, but that of the Fedora Project, and launched into a coffee conversation about Fedora, Linux and an invitation to join the Felton Linux Users Group, which conveniently was meeting that Saturday.
Herein lies the confusion.
This is the Fedora logo. The Fedora logo provides by design three distinct and important elements that are basic tenets to the FOSS paradigm: Voice, which is the blue background “bubble” reminiscent of voice bubbles in comic strips and the like; the “F” for freedom (or Fedora); and last, but certainly not least, the “F” for Freedom/Fedora is part of the symbol for infinity, albeit upright as opposed to horizontal. When you look at this, it conveys a lot of different — all positive — messages. I would suspect that the Fedora Project’s Design Team gets tired of me singing the seven-minute album version of their praises, but of all distros in this solar system, if not the entire galaxy, the Fedora Project’s artists are the best, period. Also, there’s a wiki page on the history of the Fedora logo which outlines its origins — it’s definitely worth a read.
[Editor's note: Paul Frields, former Fedora Project Leader, points out in the comments below an earlier version of the logo that appeared here was not the right one. This one above comes directly from the Fedora Project's logo wiki rather than from my ancient library. Thanks, Paul.]
On the other hand . . .
On the other hand, this is the Facebook F, which as you can see is a stylized F on a blue square with rounded corners, tastefully and tactfully shadowed and reflected to provide an almost 3-D look. It’s clean and attractive — very attractive in fact — and I’m sure that the folks at Facebook may have paid a handsome sum for the design of this logo. But when you put the two together to compare and contrast, you can tell that there is a huge difference between them, with the letter “F” and the color blue being where the similarities end.
Though its roots go further back, the Fedora Project was initiated in the fall of 2003. Mark Zuckerberg was still in his dorm at Harvard kicking off Facebook on campus a year after that. I bring this up because I have been unable to ascertain which logo came first, but I am fairly certain the Fedora logo came first. If anyone can shed some light on this, I’d be grateful.
Now, is the fact that the two logos are sometimes confused at a fleeting glance a problem for folks at Fedora? Some in the aforementioned discussion at the outset of this blog thought so, to the point where they opined that perhaps Fedora should change its logo. On the contrary: It’s a great opportunity opening a door for people who are asked about the “Facebook” sticker/button to talk about Linux, FOSS and Fedora.
[Making the lawyers happy: The Fedora Project and Facebook symbols represented above are registered trademarks belonging to their respective owners.]