Posts Tagged avatar

endnotes: @MsHerr avatar version 2.0

Over the past two weeks, many that I know, and a few that I don’t, commented on the soft edit set for my next avatar. I said I’d crowd-source the selection, and that the image that rose to the surface during the soft edit process would be the image I moved forward with. But in the end, I’ve chosen another image for very specific reasons.

The portrait with the most votes bears a lot of resemblance in expression to my first crowd-sourced avatar. They share an uninhibited smile, a joyful disposition, and a welcoming air. Perhaps there’s even a hint of mischievousness. These qualities may be some of the best loved by those who know me. They set both friend and stranger at ease, in essence, opening them to me.

crowd-selected avatars

crowd-selected avatars*

I take comfort that these qualities are so continuous in my character that they reveal a corresponding continuity in my photo shoots. However, as I plan to keep my previous avatar in rotation, and perhaps even primary, I’d rather not have two avatars so similar.

On a more technical note, cropping and image size also had a significant impact on my selection. Many individuals addressed cropping issues in the evaluation of the jump photos. No one mentioned it with the profile on the swings, wherein my hand would likely get cut off entirely. And no one addressed image size. Consider that social profiles and applications display images fairly small. Twitter’s web interface displays images at a mere 48×48 pixels. When you scale down many of the top images from my soft edit set, something gets lost. In the jump photos, it’s the fact that I’m jumping and it’s most of my distinguishing features except for my hair. In the crowd-selected image, it’s my eyes. With one of my words, touch, being so much about connection, and with so much of that connection flowing from great eye contact, I could not justify that loss.

selected images from soft edit set

selected images from soft edit set*

That brings us to my final selection, the image that was liked by most who commented, voted top by a handful, and caused the one who didn’t know me want to. Thank you to all who participated. Your feedback was insightful and had a great deal of influence on what is now @MsHerr avatar version 2 point oh.

MsHerr avatar

photo credit: tysoncrosbie

*All photography by Tyson Crosbie. I love him. He’s awesome!

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crowd-sourcing my avatar selection, version 2.0

Four hundred sixty some odd days ago, I sat down for a portrait session with Tyson Crosbie. Of the hundred or so shots that were taken, a soft edit set of 16 images were uploaded to Flickr and opened for comments. I asked a public, comprised of my online communities of friends and followers, to tell me which image they most connected with as a representation of Ms. Herr.

And I’m at it again.

Seven days ago, Tyson and I got together to capture a new body of images. In his process, a session is driven by three words chosen by the subject as articulating what they want the final portrait to portray.

MHwo_avatar_touch joy rogue

These are my words, chosen after significant personal reflection, chosen because they distill not only who I am, but also how I aspire to engage the world around me.

The soft edit set for this session will go went live on Flickr today. Comments will be open for people to select their favorite(s) and provide critical feedback. Which one(s) most genuinely conveys my character? My aspirations? My human dimensionality? Which one captures my words? Which one connects?

I hope you’ll help me choose.

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@MsHerr hits 10k tweets… & hands over the keys

Twitter_MsHerr_9953rd tweet

After 26 months on Twitter, I’m fast approaching ten thousand Twitter updates. That’s a lot of characters. It’s a bit of a milestone. Not like turning 18. Or turning 21. Or losing your virginity. But a milestone nevertheless.

@spectagirl suggested 10,000 shots. Indeed momentous, but not quite what I had in mind. @smarti9 started #MsHerr10kWatch2oo9. My friends are often quick to rally behind my endeavors in some fashion or another.

A few hours ago, I was 10 tweets away from 10k. By the time you read this, I’ll be 7 tweets or less from 10k. The build up to that 10,000th tweet has been fun, but also a bit daunting. Suddenly 140 characters has become a much bigger deal than necessary. There is this pressure to be momentous. Funny considering I’m much more likely to miss it completely (despite @smarti9’s 10k watch) and either use it on a reply or post something completely irrelevant.

I’ve decided to hand over the keys to my Twitter account. That means you (and everyone else) will have the opportunity to post as and from @MsHerr for up to 26 hours.

Why am I doing this? This is not the first time I’ve yielded control of my social presence. A year ago, I asked my community to help me select my avatar. My reasons then still hold true today. I believe in the social web. I believe in trusting my friends, connections, and communities. I believe in yielding control. And I’m curious to see what will happen. It could be phenomenal success or it could be an abysmal failure. But why not? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.

How will it work? I have set up a Ping.fm account linked to @MsHerr and will publish the associated posting email address in my 10,000th tweet. You (and everyone else) can send a tweet to this address, where it will then feed automatically to @MsHerr. My only request is that you sign your tweet with ^@yourtwittername (please replace yourtwittername with your actual twitter name so people can link to you). Ping accepts text updates and photo updates, so feel free to post pics too. If you need a how-to, check out Ping’s posting guides.

My disclaimer: I reserve the right to delete any tweet. If you do not sign your tweet, I will probably delete it. If I feel violated by your tweet, I will probably delete it. After all, this is my account we’re talking about.

That’s it. That’s the deal. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me proud. And remind me why I fell in love with the social web so many months ago.

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endnotes on the avatar project & process

The new face of Ms. Herr when online launched Friday afternoon on Twitter.

What started with a friend’s critique of the photographic quality of my then default profile pic and my own feeling that the same pic was ill-suited to serve my growing adoption of both personal and professional networking platforms, led to a strong desire for a new social media avatar. Subsequent conversations on personal branding and web presence cemented a notion that one’s avatar was a tool, an iconographic representation of self, serving to frame perceptions of their unique identity.

Already a fan of his abstract fine art work and his Dog a Day series, I was excited to work with Tyson Crosbie (@tysoncrosbie on Twitter) for my shoot, which in essence, was a conversation traversing a number of subjects during which he captured over 50 moments of self-expression.

Having spent much time discoursing the power of social media to engage audiences in meaningful conversations and crowd-source information, I felt it was important to include my own audience in the image selection process. Tyson posted a soft edit set* of 16 images on Flickr and we asked people to select their favorite. (*Link may take you to set of another individual/subject as Tyson and his clients continue to use this process for soliciting feedback. Selections from my set are currently archived here.)

The crowd-selected image is not the image I would have selected…and I consider this incongruence indicative of a successful process. It is often said that each of us is our own worst critic. How we perceive ourselves, how we hope to be perceived by others, and how we are truly perceived by these others are rarely perfectly aligned. What I believe to be my greatest attributes may not sync with those attributes that draw others to me. And so by yielding the selection of my avatar to a voluntary participant group, what rose to the top was an iconographic representation of self that connects most strongly with others.

Want another perspective? Tyson blogged his thoughts on the relationship between the avatar and personal branding.

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crowd sourcing my avatar selection

The soft edits of my shoot are up! 🙂

The purpose of my shoot was a social media avatar to serve as a visual thread throughout my increasing engagement of online activities and communities. In the true spirit of social media, I want to open up selection of the final image. Consider it an experiment in crowd sourcing the expression of identity.

The soft edit set, posted to Flickr, includes 16 images in their original format. The final avatar will, of course, be cropped to create a unique square composition. But to help me get to that point, I’d be flattered if you would view the set, point out your favorites, and provided critical feedback. Which one(s) most genuinely conveys my character? My aspirations? My human dimensionality? Which one embraces joy as a state of mind? Which one connects?

Photography by Tyson Crosbie.




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avatar: iconographic representation of self

Yesterday I had a shoot with photographer and artist, Tyson Crosbie. The purpose: social media avatar.

There are plenty of people who participate in social media and social networking simply as a way to keep in touch with friends. Regularly uploading new pics from various ad- and misad-ventures. Sharing stories, songs, and videos. Making plans. Adding new friends. And adding apps that allow them to engage these friends. All for fun.

Then there are those, who may do all of the above, but also see social media as an essential tool for building personal brands and online reputations. They aren’t just adding friends, they’re building a network. And very likely, they are building multiple networks across multiple social media platforms, from blogging to Twitter to Facebook to Flickr.

At the core of each platform is the individual user profile with various biographical information including user handle, given name, location, about, web presence, and … profile image. This one image serves as an iconographic representation of self. Avatar.

But how often, even among those building online personal brands, do we truly think about our avatar and what is conveyed when we select it. Don’t most of us just search for one of our favorite pics, crop it square, and click upload? I did. But as I continue a transition from just another girl keeping up with friends on MySpace to Ms. Herr when online, I’ve been realizing that my iconographic representation needs to be much more than just a quick hacked pic.

Soft edits will be posted in the near future for feedback.

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