Friday, 21 January 2011

The Faces Behind the Name

I am running late with my Teacher Challenge homework. There is a reason for that: my blog was three years old yesterday and I just had to celebrate it. It was also my birthday and my online friends threw me a little surprise party:

Then I read and answered all those messages posted to me elsewhere. It took me two hours.

I have a large PLN (Personal Learning Network). It is comprised of the people I follow on Twitter, people I connect with on Facebook, people I talk to in different forums, people I go to online workshops with and, of course, "my bloggers". Those are the people I blog with.

Blogging may look like a solitary activity, but it is not. Whenever you post a meaningful comment on someone's blog, a connection is formed. You will continue to learn from each other. You might even become blogging buddies, supporting each other along the way, giving each other blogging assignments, linking to each other's posts. It is networking in its best sense.

What has it got to do with Teacher Challenge Number 4? Apart from the "My dog ate my homework" bit. Sorry, teacher, I had to write 'thank you' notes to members of my PLN.

I believe this has everything to do with the Create Your Avatar task. Because your avatar is how other people will see you online, and I mean this literally.

The title of this post? Well, let's say you have been to my blog a couple of times. You have followed my tweets and read a couple of comments I posted in my forums in the rare occasions I went out of my usual lurking mode. You know who I am then. The more you connect to me, the more you will get to know me as a person. Except, you have never heard me laugh or seen me wave my hands when I speak. You don't know what I look like.

It is exactly the opposite from what happens offline. You get to see someone first or you hear their voice over the phone and that is your first impression of the person. Then you get to know them. That's why I think profile pictures and avatars are really important.


This is what I look like on Twitter and in a lot of other online spaces. It is my default profile picture. It is three years old. A lot of people change their profile pictures periodically, but I am too lazy for that. Besides, those who know me will immediately recognise my picture precisely because I use the same one over and over. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

Sometimes I look like this:


That is the photo I use on Facebook, Blip and a few other places.

This is what I sound like:

Finally, what I call myself. My name, Nataša, is pronounced as Natasha. However, my usual profile name is lunas994. Whenever you see lunas994, it's got to be me. That is my Twitter name, for example. Back in the old days I was reluctant to share my real name or my photo, so I took the first letters of the names of my family members (Luka, Natasa, Srećko) and added 994 because 1994 was a good year for me. And it stuck. Like my profile picture, I am not going to change it because it is a part of my online personality.

So, should you use a real photograph as your avatar or something else? I prefer to use a real picture because it makes me look more like a real person, which, of course, I am. It is easier to relate to a 'real person' than a cartoon character. Of course, this shouldn't be a universal rule. If you are uncomfortable using your real picture, by all means post something else. Whatever you feel represents you the best.

Generated by: Tag Generator


Anonymous said...

Hi Natasha,

Happy birthday to you and your blog! I agree with your thoughts about preferring to use an actual picture of oneself rather than an image avatar, but I love your voki avatar!
I prefer to see people's "real" faces in photos of themselves, but now I see there is something to be said for sharing one's voice as well.
You have a beautiful voice.
Thanks for sharing,

Anonymous said...

G'day Natasha. Happy birthday to you and your blog. Hope you had a great day. It can be very time consuming answering everyone's wishes but it is worth it as that keeps the network going.
I agree with you. I have a photot that I started with three years ago and am reluctant to change it as people can recognize me online easily. I have also found that they recognize me at face to face conferences and I love it when someone I know on twitter comes up and says hello, recognizing me through the avatar.
I am fascinated by the extensive network that you have. How did you get started? How did you develop such a vast network? Thanks for sharing and you are never 'too late' to do the challenges.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say that I like the wallwisher for your birthday greetings. I love using wallwisher but it has been a little unstable lately. Have you found that?


That as fun listening to your voice! It makes me feel like I know you a little bit more now!


Natasa said...

Tammy, thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment about my voice. I have to say that I felt strange when I first heard my own voice the way others hear it. And it took me several attempts to get it right. I admire podcasters. Mistakes are easy to make when you are recording your own voice and then you have to start all over.

Natasa said...

Thank you Anne. I had a great day.
Now, my network is not that big. I made it sound as if I knew thousands of people online. Anyway, I started networking when I first joined a group of Web 2.0 enthusiasts called Webheads in Action. Most of my online friends come from the Webheads forum. We are like a big international family.
I agree with you - Wallwisher is unreliable. When I embedded it here, it first wouldn't show. There was an 'error' sign where my Wallwisher should have been. Then it suddenly materialised. Don't know what went wrong.

Natasa said...

Hello Karenne. Yes, I know. When you communicate with someone online, you are constantly trying to form a mental picture of what they are like. These things help.

Sheri said...

Natasa, I agree with your words -- the personality that one meets and shares online is an important dimension in today's world; it's important to keep it true. Thanks for your ideas, and Happy Birthday !

Natasa said...

Thank you, Sheri. Getting to know someone online is like putting pieces of jigsaw puzzle together. The more you share, the more you get to know the other person. That's why it is very important for us to be who we really are.


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