Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 22, 2007 5:24 PM

The Universal Avatar - I'm One Person Online, Why Not Let Me Experience The Web That Way?

You are one person, why can't you experience the Web in the same fashion?

Why must we all constantly create unique profiles and Avatars for the multitude of online social networks, virtual worlds and sites requiring registration or sign up?

As we enter a new era in Search (Google seems to be ramping up the Universal Search - getting all search results - text, images, videos, news, etc_ - in one cohesive page), it seems almost archaic that for every online social network or Web experience we're attempting to engage with that we need a unique passport. It goes beyond the tough task of memorizing username and passwords - and it's not due to laziness (although, as everyone knows, laziness is the Mother of Better Invention). With a Universal Avatar, all of my Digital Life is centralized, easily updated and much more valuable to me (and, in return, to any publisher of content) in one central location.

Here's what I mean: If I have a Universal Avatar, odds are I will treat the "look and feel" of it with a heightened sense of awareness versus what I do now: which is try to find the quickest route to fill out any online form by either ignoring important details, bluffing to speed up the process or simply clicking anything in hopes of sending false information to the publisher as punishment for making me fill out the information in the first place.

A Universal Avatar is the digital representation of me. Accordingly, I would respect it with the same level of integrity I put into my Personal Brand. In fact, I would wholeheartedly argue that my Universal Avatar, and the Personal Brand it represents, might even be more important than my real life one. My real life Personal Brand does not spend its day immersed with close to one thousand LinkedIn contacts, eight hundred Facebook friends and over four hundred people following me on twitter. My online persona does.

This Twist Image Blog, the Six Pixels Of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast, etc_ are all components of my Personal Brand that are migrated into these Digital Channels. Yet, within these channels - more often than not - we're all forced to create unique Avatars per "closed" environment. I'm busy spending too much time ensuring that my Personal Brand is consistent across the many social networks I maintain versus developing lasting relationship with others. What we'll quickly learn is that real-life and your Universal Digital Avatar are very similar. To quote the great Philosopher, Popeye: "I Y'am What I Y'am."

As these online social networks grow and open up their API platform for budding publishers to integrate content and develop widgets, I maintain my concern that the biggest win in taking the Web to the next level is the ability for people, like you and I, to have a Universal Avatar that can be a part of any online community it so chooses.

For Marketers, imagine the possibilities. Imagine the rich data set. Imagine consumers actually spending the time it deserves to nurture and add value to their online presence as it develops from social network to social network. This idea of "command and control" of Avatars in isolated platforms is so very Web 1.0. It just doesn't seem to fit in a world where people are doing everything they can to connect more and more through digital channels with authenticity.

Bring forth a Universal Avatar.

By Mitch Joel