What is an Avatar - "A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?" from gravatar.com

What are the current choices

  • Implement your own
    • Probably not going to be supported very well on 3rd party sites
  • Embedded into the system you are using
    • E.g. Facebook, Wordpress, ... insert name here
    • Not portable
    • We use heaps of systems, we don't want to upload and manage this in so many places
  • Gravatar
    • Excellent in all ways but two:
    • Single service, depending on external system that can be down.
    • Third party dependent
    • Requires Base64 encoded email, instead of just email in URL - WHY !!!
      • Yes I know @ must be encoded, but there are better ways
      • Also they use URL encoding for URLs so why use two different systems !
      • People can do URL encoding in there head, or with a tiny amount of lookup
      • People can NOT do Base64
  • Pavatar
    • Stores images on your own URL
    • But URL, not Email - we must be able to use email !!!
    • Still depends on the site to get
  • Embed application into another
    • E.g. Facebook applications
    • The information can not be extracted from Facebook, but can be shown
    • Dependent on 3rd party
    • Even your data is on that site !
    • All the disadvantages of all of the above and more.
  • Micoformats hCard
    • Basically embed the information in computer parsable format in your home page.
    • Pretty much the same advantages/disadvantages as Pavatar, but no central service (good and bad).

Integration with Authentication

From Facebook information and other social networking to single point of authentication to the full blown single sign on. These are all methods we want to integrate with getting data such as your Avatar (personal image) or even the country you live in.

For public information this is achievable with the same technique as OpenID - which incidentally is how Pavatar is doing it - by encoding the information into the URL.

The problem is - we have no way of turning an email address into a URL !