Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Avatar Sneakiness

Today, I changed my Instant Messenger avatar - the little glyph that shows up when I send an annoying chat message. My avatar used to be the program icon for one of our pieces of software. Now it's a doodle I did in Microsoft Paint.

Pretty, huh? Before you go asking me what it is, take a minute to look at it again. What do you think it is?

Time's up! The answer is, it's a digital Ink Blot. You're supposed to tell me what you think it looks like, and I'm supposed to figure out what your interpretation tells me about the deep undercurrents of your psyche. Tricky, huh? A buddy icon generally gives you information about me ... it might tell you what I look like, or what cartoon characters I associate with, or how boring I am to choose a program icon. But this avatar works the other way around, and gives ME information about YOU! A testament to my own paranoia!

<insert diabolical laugh here>

Ok, so let's look at my first couple of victims and see how they respond. First, my unsuspecting wife.

vryhotwife: what's that icon next to your words?
studmffn: what's it look like?
vryhotwife: gray and white clouds. i can't see it very well.
studmffn: nod
studmffn: it's actually a kind of an ink blot
vryhotwife: hmmm.
studmffn: what you think it looks like is supposed to tell me things about you
vryhotwife: oh, and what did you learn?
studmffn: um
studmffn: i dunno
studmffn: what else do you think it looks like?
vryhotwife: um, a little bird smoking underneath a big tree trunk?
studmffn: now you're talkin'

Yes, she actually said "a little bird smoking underneath a big tree trunk". And no, those aren't our actual screen names.

I also got a good response from one of my work compadres:

reep: What is that?
studmffn: it's an inkblot
studmffn: sorta
studmffn: it tells me the deep secrets of all of my chatting buddiez
reep: Whew. I was getting nervous. It looked like a Communist Revolution to me.

Which, incidentally, reminds me of some scary things that have been in the news lately:

this (courtesy of reep, because I happen to own a copy of the Little Red Book, straight from the heart of Red China)
and this (courtesy of me, because the President is off his rocker)

But I guess it just goes to show: If you work for the gov'ment, you don't need inkblots. Heck, you don't even need checks and balances! And as reep pointed out: if the Prez is straight on this one, wouldn't it make Watergate legal?

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