the avatar as a representation of “self”

One of my current students uses her dog, Bishop, as her profile image. I love that she does that. It gives me a warm feeling about her. She mentioned in one of our discussions that she chose him because she was concerned about her privacy and security.

She said:

I think it is funny that you mention my use of my Bishop for an image. I had a reason. In a class we had on cyber security, it said to never use a real image of yourself unless you want it broadcasted. We learned how to build an Avatar. I do not like my Avatar because when I made it, the selections did not include large or handicapped people as a choice. Everything was “beautiful people” and personally, I think that is very wrong. I have never gone out there to look further to see if there are other places (I used Yahoo) to see if you can build a real person. So I chose Bishop as he is my familiar.

As soon as i read her post i did a google search and started playing with 2D avatar generators to see what i could come up with. Below are links to the ones i found an played with. The resulting images i have inserted in to this post.

Avatar Generators:



These last 2 are my SecondLife 3D avatars. I lived in my newbie SL skin (left) for almost a year before changing her to a more “realistic” me (right) : ) Not sure why, but i never messed with her looks much till i saw someone walk by that looked just like me, and then i started thinking about it and wanted her to look more like the real me, so i plumped her up and got some “good” hair to look more like mine. Then i didn’t touch her looks again till i had to do a presentation in SL ( and wanted to represent myself more realistically and less like a newbie. Have not really touched her since… i had a hard time finding appropriate clothes. I think about the online representation of self often. Colleagues and i have talked about, especially in the hyper-sexualized world of secondlife. I note it everytime i log into some place on the social web and see how friends and colleagues choose to represent themselves, or when i am required to upload yet another image to another profile somewhere… I am charmed by those who choose animals or some image that whispers insight into the person. I like that invention and creativity very much. None of the new little avatars i generated “really” look like me. There is a suggestion of me, i suppose. Brown skin, hair, and eyes. long curly hair… i really like the little one with the black skirt and shirt, but i will not be running around the web changing my profile images to any of these anytime soon.

I understand and respect the need for privacy, and for some, not wanting one’s “real” image floating about the net. For some there may be a sense of loss of control. I guess i feel “in charge” of what i put out there.

One thought on “the avatar as a representation of “self”

  1. Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!

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