THIS TOPIC IS INSPIRED BY DISCUSSIONS IN THE FORUM about the use of pseudonyms by members of Writers’ Dock. The use of avatars is closely linked to this and it seems logical to examine this in some detail.
Descent in Human Form:
Avatar is a Sanskrit word rooted in the Hindu concept of ‘descent of a deity into the human world’. The deity is an enlightened being who, out of compassion, returns in flesh to save mankind. Thus, an avatar is an incarnation of the sacred. One of the main Hindu deities who returns in his avatar form is Vishnu. He has eight different avatars and Krishna is the most popular of his avatars. Krishna (the ‘blue-skinned one’) is often depicted in Hindu iconography as the archetypal infant, lover (the flute being his instrument of enchantment), and the wise prince (in the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata).
It is interesting that another major computer term, ‘icon’, also derives from a fleshly representation of a divine being in Christian iconography.
From the Heavens to the Computer:
According to the Wiki:
The use of the term avatar for a computer representation of a user dates back to at least as far back as 1985, when it was used as the name for the player character in the Ultima computer games. The Ultima games started out in 1981, but it was in Ultima IV (1985), that the term ‘Avatar’ was introduced. To become the ‘Avatar’ was the goal of Ultima IV. The later games assumed that you were the Avatar and ‘Avatar’ was the player’s visual on-screen in-game persona. The on-screen representation could be customized in appearance. Later, the term ‘avatar’ was used by the designers of the pen and paper role-playing game, Shadowrun (1989), as well as in the online role-playing game, Habitat (1987).
It seems this use of avatar takes on a more personal role when we use avatars to represent ourselves on a site like this. There are numerous forums dedicated to the creation of online avatars.
Nectar of Wisdom: Signatures:
Together with the avatars, we also use signature or what the Wiki calls signature block:
It is common practice for a signature block to consist of one or more lines containing some brief information on the author of the message . . . A quotation is often included (occasionally automatically generated by such tools as fortune or an ASCII picture). Strict rules of capitalization are not followed.
What inspires your choice of avatar and signature?
Do you have more than one avatar?
Do you change your avatar and signature from time to time? What factors influence this?
— Golden Langur