Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Online Visual Identity

When Michele Martin changed her profile picture the other day, I realized I was a bit disoriented. Suddenly, she didn't look like the Michele I "knew."

And I saw how one dimensional our images of our online contacts (and digital friends) can be -- typically based on the same profile picture that's used in countless places. I've had the same profile picture up for months -- on my blog, in Facebook, MyBlogLog, and now here.

Truth be told, I've gotten pretty sick of that chirpy picture of me sitting in my kitchen wearing that purple sweatshirt popping up everywhere.

I do, indeed, often look like that. But that's just one view.

So I'm going to try to mix it up a bit. I've changed my profile picture in a few of my online places. I'm still smiling. But I'm wearing a different purple shirt.

For some reason, I haven't figured out how to change my Blogger Profile Picture -- so I'll still look like a green apple.

Why does this even matter? It has something to do with creating an online identity that's well-rounded. That's not just a caricature of me.

In this TED Talks video of Mena Trott, founder of Six Apart, she talks about taking a picture of herself everyday and posting them on her (private) blog. The power of the personal; building a friendlier world through blogs...

I should also show you pictures of me where I'm not smiling. Because sometimes I don't actually feel so damn chirpy.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy - I know the feeling! It's great to see different facets and images of people. Although every so often I try to change if I can. My profile pic is a purple me, although fine for that but abit scary for twitter and facebook!!!

Anonymous said...

You know I love this, Cammy. You're right about how we get used to one picture. I was really jarred when I saw that you'd changed yours at Building a Better Blog. It was like, "Who IS this person pretending to be Cammy?"

I think we should graduate to video next--that way we can really get a picture of each other.

tallasiandude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tallasiandude said...

(whoops, sorry. Fat-fingered the draft version of the original comment.)

Oftentimes, when I find a new blog, I will fairly quickly search for a photo so I can map a face to a name, which is interesting since it seems like I should really only care about the ideas expressed in the writing, not how the person looks. But maybe it's just a naturally human thing to do -- trying to glean more context, more trust. (That thing, I guess.)

So I find it particularly interesting to read how you're trying to create a better on-line representation of yourself through your profile pictures whereas over the past several years I've gone in the opposite direction and become more reluctant to post photos of myself. (I've been edging over the line more recently, but I've felt very self-conscious about it.) Part of that is out of respect for my spouse (who has strong privacy concerns when if comes to personal information being available on the net), but I also recognize that it's largely due to the context in which I blog. Clearly, your blogging is work-related and part of your professional role/persona/hat. It seems like a reasonable part of the job description.

I find some of what you've discussed to be endlessly fascinating, but I often wonder how much is applicable to a "recreational blogger" such as myself, where there really isn't as much of a "legitimate" reason for me to be here, yapping at the blogosphere at large.

tallasiandude said...

Ugh. Blogger is not respecting my closing anchor tag. That should read "That thin-slicing thing, I guess." and link to

I guess youse gets what youse pays for. But it's hard to argue with free.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cammy

My trouble is that there are very few photos in existence and normally they look like crap (not me!). Changed my twitter avatar over the last few days. Kate did a really good video hi to everyone which I keep meaning to do.

BTW been telling everyone about co-mment and thanking you for it. They are loving it. So thanks again for telling me.


Cammy Bean said...

@ raise some essential points about privacy and anonymity. For those of us blogging in the professional sphere, there's some personal branding going on. But I don't want to be a static robotic version of myself that only looks like that one picture. Although I'm professional, I do have many faces....

@ Sue...I also have very few pictures of myself from which to choose. Usually, I'm the one with the camera. Glad you're enjoying co.mment!