The most recent Teacher Challenge challenge is to think about Avatars, and how we visually represent ourselves and our identities in the online world. It got me thinking a bit about the various avatars that I have used since I began blogging and networking.
The first avatar I ever used was my old dog, Bella. I figured that since my nickname was dogtrax, having a dog as my avatar made sense. And she was a beautiful dog, so I enjoyed seeing her image on my posts. I think, at the time, I was erecting some protective walls around identity, and my dog didn’t reveal a thing about me, really.
Later, I shifted to an avatar image that I have of me playing guitar with my old band, The Sofa Kings. It’s a picture from when we went into the recording studio. I liked how it captured my love of music and my identity of being in a rock and roll band.
These days, I am more apt to use a drawing I made myself in MS Paint. It’s pretty basic, but it seems comfortable to me. I got tired of seeing myself in an image as my avatar. The self-portrait is not really me (maybe an older version of me, with more hair) but I like that I drew it myself, with my own hands (mouse) and I see it and think, yep, that’s me.
I uploaded a bunch of my various avatars to see how the embedded gallery will work.
In general, I guess folks have to think about hwy they want to use an avatar: is it for flash, for fun, for privacy or for something else. There are certainly tons of avatar makers out there now, and it is always good to take a step back and consider how it is that we represent ourselves to the world. And when we talk to our students, and work with our students with avatars, it’s a good way to get into visual literacy: what does this picture say to the world?
And the ease in which we can make the switch of our visual representation means we can easily shed and recreate our online visual identities with a click of a button and swipe of a mouse.
Peace (in the avatar),
PS — Later, it occurred to me that I didn’t mention the use of Voki and other animated avatars. I have tried them and found them … too disjointed and too odd. Maybe it’s that whole robotic human thing. And the eyeballs following my mouse just makes me unsettled. I know plenty of folks like Voki. Not me. I prefer a static avatar that doesn’t talk to me.