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How we look vs Who we are

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 by Dave Winer.

I was talking with a friend this morning, part of an ongoing conversation about how people are judged by their outside image and how this may be at odds with how they see themselves. I think we spend our whole lives studying this.  Permalink to this paragraph

A few stories... Permalink to this paragraph

1. About 15 years ago I took a picture of my father and showed it to him. I thought he looked good, happy and fit -- I thought he would be pleased, but instead he winced. I said "Dad that's what you look like." And he said one of the sweetest things I remember him saying -- that inside he still feels like he's 19 and this picture reminded him that he was not (he was about 65 at the time).  Permalink to this paragraph

2. A friend got rich, quickly, and then just as quickly got poor. Never saw anything like it before or since. I formed a theory that inside he felt poor and the riches were at odds with that. It was easier to get rid of the money than to get rid of the feeling of worthlessness. (None of this is conscious by the way, it's all about the subconscious, which is much more powerful.) Permalink to this paragraph

3. I was dating a very attractive woman. I got invited to see the world from her point of view, and man, what a difference. She thought everyone was always trying to get in each others' pants. I told her this was not true! But I don't think she ever believed me.  Permalink to this paragraph

4. A friend tells a story about very gentle person, a man, who has very dark eyebrows. He explained that everyone always thinks he's angry even when he's happy or wistful or curious or sad. Everyone reacts to him all the time as if he were angry. To him the world looks like a very defensive place. Permalink to this paragraph

5. Me, I was always a tall boy growing up. But there came a time when I shot up and went from 70 or 80 pounds to 150 or 170, probably in two or three years. From 60 inches tall to 72 inches. Inside I was still a child, but outside I was scaring everybody. I know that now but I didn't understand it when I was a kid, because I was inside the body looking out. I remained more or less constant, but the effect I had on people changed dramatically. This left me confused for years! A lot of people must go through this, we all grow up and the people around us remember us as a cute little kid and all of a sudden the cute kid is gone, replaced by a strapping young man or a shapely young woman. Maybe they never forgive you for stealing the cute little kid? Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named accordion.gifAnyway, back to my friend who started this thread. I had asked her to tune into my Twitter feed and she did, and we talk about it when we get together. Today she wanted to know why my icon is King Kong. I said it's a joke -- that's what people say about me, but it's not really me. Inside I'm nothing like that, but on the outside, often it seems to me that the world is relating to me as if I were. She asked why not change the image. I laughed and asked -- what should I change it too? Ballet slippers? A pink tutu? No, she said, how about a teddy bear or Gentle Ben? Hmmm. Well, I'm not quite ready for that, after giving it some thought. I don't see myself that way, and it's important that the iconography not only reflect how you'd like people to see you, but also reflect how you feel inside. So I looked through my archive and settled, for now, on the accordion player. He's a very frequent guest here, and in many ways I identify with him. Playing a tune, giving people a song to sing, but folksy -- even schmaltzy -- that's how I'd like to be seen. Not too heavy, but not all cuddles either. Maybe someday I'll feel okay with Gentle Ben, but not yet. Permalink to this paragraph

So I'm archiving my Twitter imagery today and replacing it with new stuff. Here's an overall screen shot of what it used to look like, and here's the old avatar, and the background image. I'm replacing it with the accordion guy and a picture of the SF skyline taken from my perch in the Berkeley Hills, roughly what I see when I look out over the world while I'm twittering or blogging. Permalink to this paragraph

Of course while I was trying to make the change I had a visit from the whale. I'll have to wait till he let's me do my thing. :-( Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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Last update: 2/10/2009; 6:04:26 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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