For as long the web exists we are looking for virtual representations of ourselves. It started with alternative names based on novel characters, geek names and combinations of letters and numbers. Over the years it has gotten more common to use your real name for online activities.
Another thing that has gotten more common is the avatar. Author Neal Stephenson is thought to be the first who used the word avatar for digital representation in his science fiction book Snow Crash. Snow Crash is about a virtual reality that measures you facial expression and transmits this to your avatar (it’s a great book, too weird to explain).
The avatar is best known from games, where it is a representation of you – the player – in the virtual world of the game. Mario was your avatar, Zelda was. Even the little bar in pong was your avatar. Didn’t you feel the identification with the bar when playing pong :)
Fora and instant messaging services added meaning to the word by uploading your pictures and drawings to represent yourself in an instant messaging world. Social networks rely on the avatar as well. It’s more personal than text and easier to recognize. Even if the avatar is not more reliable compared to text, it gives you a stronger impression that it is real. We believe what we see first.
iChat stores a recent history of your images on your harddrive and about two years ago I started collecting them. I don’t know why, I just did. The image in this post show some of these images found on my computer over the last two years.
The avatar aggregator
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an avatar aggregator? A website that manages your avatars on different domains?
You upload your new image to one location and it changes it on all your websites like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, etc.? It should also store you images and tag them with a date so you can see how you have changed over the last years or months.