Chinposin Gets Serious: The Platform



Chinposin is mostly a bit of fun for a Friday, but in the week since we started the project we’ve realised a few things. One is that the use of avatars is surprisingly crude, when you think how expressive we are in person. I am pretty sure there is going to be a lot of work in this area in future, making our avatars more expressive, more in synch with us. We currently use avatars as personal branding beacons or oh yeah that’s him/her people placeholders. But couldn’t they do a lot more? We’re mercurial.

But avatars seem to follow a few basic patterns – almost all of them pretty undynamic. There is the PR shot, a perfect pic, with full make up and big hair head shot, There is the rough and ready webcam or mobile phone pic (they both lead to interesting, instantly recogniseable angles), there is the abstract, “messed with” pic, the Second Life avatar avatar, and so on. You might suggest a few more.

We like human faces. That’s one reason apps with avatar pictures are popular. Its not called Facebook for nothing.

Avatars are still lives, but aren’t we in conversations?

Chinposes, which a select few use on Twitter as a matter of course, are usually found in magazines with columnists. When I worked for a few trade magazines back in the 1990s I had a couple of chin pose moments. It must be Professional Magazine Photographer 101 or something.

The chin pose is mostly used to convey seriousness, credibility, gravitas. It says take this person seriously, for they are a thinker.

There are some great examples in this stock photo montage, with some additional tropes such as sexily, and, or moodily, staring off into the distance.

So we thought it would be fun to make a good chin pose a reason to change your avatar. A clear precedent was Susan Reynolds’ frozen pea campaign, which we clearly don’t want to get in the way of; which is incentive for caching your chin pose, so you don’t need to be stuck chinposin all Friday.

More than 90 people are playing with chinposes within a week of starting so why not encourage more to join in?

To get a better idea of what I am talking about its probably best to check out

We have a bunch of ideas for future weeks – you know we’re all going to have to do the same chinpose at some point, right? – It may be that the chinposium is just the first application of a platform. But I am getting ahead of myself. This week we just want you to put your best chin forward.

@chinposin was designed with twitter in mind, so an easy way to get involved is to log on to twitter, upload a new avatar with a good chin pose, become a follower of @chinposin, and then @tweet “update”. But if you don’t use twitter you could always just upload a chinpose to flickr, and then tag the image accordingly- that is, with the tag “chinpose”. Jaiku and Pownce too. You can see a pattern here, right.

Chris has done an amazing job with the app, his first in PHP, but there may be a few rough edges. Still we kind of expect that from a new cool service don’t we? 😉

I am looking forward to seeing what platinum chinposin card holder @thinguy here comes up with… We’re making some t-shirts and he is getting the first one.



March 6, 2008. 1.


  1. Kevin Chu replied:

    I did a “study” on avatars a little while ago. I’ve since updating it to include chinposin.

  2. Thin Guy replied:

    Chintabulous! I am honored.

  3. Thin Guy replied:

    I’m honored!

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