You can see the new, tiled, background image for my Twitter account.  The multicolored bonanza of triangles and primary colors is mesmerizing and aesthetically pleasing, right?  Or is the image effect sort of eye numbing and hard on the retinas?  Did you notice the twitter logo shares the same color blue as my background image?  There’s nothing to that shared hue of blue except that “it is the color that it is” — which is a complicated way of saying, “it’s a popular primary blue.”

I’m also using that background image as my Twitter Avatar:

Here, a slightly different version of that Avatar can be seen in use on LinkedIn.

Here’s a larger view of my LinkedIn Avatar:

Here’s my new Avatar for the Boles Blogs Network — again, just a bit different than the other Avatar images you’ve seen so far:

Facebook, too:

This is a larger version for

Welcome to the new addition for all Boles Blogs Network sidebars: is in on the action: is online with the viral propagation: is not immune from cutting the edge:

I’ve kept you longing long enough.

What you’ve been seeing so far — are not just backgrounds and Avatars — they are embedded examples of our shared future:  Unique identifiers created using “Microsoft Tag” to virally promote a brand and cement a repressed need to belong.

Here’s how Microsoft describes their tagging system:

Instant information and entertainment.

Microsoft Tag creates unlimited possibilities for making interactive communications an
instant, entertaining part of life. They tranform [sic] physical media (print advertising,
billboards, product packages, information signs, in-store merchandising, or even video
images) — into live links for accessing information and entertainment online.

With the Microsoft Tag application, just aim your camera phone at a Tag and instantly
access mobile content, videos, music, contact information, maps, social networks,
promotions, and more. Nothing to type, no browsers to launch!

Neat, eh?

Are you following the how of why I’ve done this yet? 

With the right camera cell phone, you can “read” these Microsoft Tag images and then be automagically taken to a website embedded in the coded graphic.

Are you now convinced I’m not really insane, but rather cagily helping re-brand my brands?

Here’s my management screen for where I can create my unique Tagged Branding:

Creating a new Microsoft Tag is easy. 

Just fill in a few bits of information and click on the “Save” button and you’re done:

Once you create your Tags, you download them in .PDF format so you can resize and save them as image files — .JPG seems to translate better than .PNG — for your blogs, business cards, t-shirts, hats, notepads or other scheming promotion.

What I like best about using a Microsoft Tag as my Avatar is that, by “reading” the image with your cell phone camera, you are able to independently confirm my identity.  No hiding.  No wondering.  Read the image and you’re taken to the who of me. 

I suppose people could create a Microsoft Tag in your name with your URL to fake the who and what you are — but in the end, they’re only promoting your fame

Perhaps one day Microsoft will provide some sort of cross-checking key that will confirm the person that created the tag actually has the right to own that tag in the same way Google Analytics demands you verify you actually own the domain you claim. 

Using a Microsoft Tag as your Avatar means few people would actively want to steal your image identity — unless, of course, you want everyone on your staff to share the same Avatar to virally promote your business all over the world!

The delicious iPhone is the primary method I use for reading Microsoft Tags in print or on screen. 

I know Microsoft wants its Tag program to be used for selling items on the internet, but — like a rubber band serves to hold both a newspaper and a ponytail — so too, is the Microsoft Tag reader able to be multipurposed in many, expandable, ways. 

You can see the “TagReader” application on my the main screen of my iPhone:

Once started, Microsoft Tag roars to life.

If you’ve ever taken an image with an iPhone, you know the camera is lousy and “getting natively up close” is nigh impossible.  “Tap to start…”

Here is my first attempt to read the Microsoft Tag I’m using as a tiled background image on my Twitter account.

Yes, the image is blurry and my hand unstable.  I touch the “Use Photo” option anyway to send the Tag to Microsoft for reading.


The Tag Reader gives me some advice for how to re-take the image:

For my second blurry attempt, I pull back a bit, filling the screen with my Twitter Avatar background — and even some of my graffiti wallpaper from my MacBook Pro just to be persnickety — and I touch the “Use Photo” button again. 

I hold hope with fingers crossed:


The Microsoft Tag Reader accepts my image, calls up Safari, sends the image to the Microsoft Tag site for interpreting and I’m re-directed to — all in the moment of the twinkling of an eye, and much too fast to grab the process in a series of screenshots. 

Here is the end result:

Microsoft Tag reader is certainly Panopticonic and surveilling, and inherently insecure, but since I am opting in on both sides of the coin — the creation of the tag and its reading — I am not put off by the invasion of my space, nor by the lack of a two-way identity key.

In fact, I wonder if inking a Microsoft Tag on my forehead as my first tattoo would be readable by my iPhone — or have I taken my want for self-branding a byte too far?


  1. As a background it’s a little blinding but I love the idea. I think I know a certain little bear who should probably consider adding it to his promotional goods. 🙂 Perhaps a tattoo would be too much – let us not forget that a similar idea was at one point tried with the cuecat

  2. I can understandthe whys and wherefores – might just do one myself. The result as an avatar is fine- as background ……… reaches for the sunglasses.

  3. Hi Nicola!
    Yes, I think MSFT Tags have a real future in making an Avatar live beyond just the mere image.
    Would the background be less bright if I used a larger size for tiling?

  4. I like the idea of a trackable avatar/trademark across the web – it is almost but not quite copyright.
    I like the idea of being able to search for content by known author/tag.
    Not sure what the answer to the twitter page is – I think the root of the problem is the colors themselves – snappy in an avatar – garish across a whole page.

  5. That’s it, Nicola! You can leave breadcrumbs of who and what you are all over the internet — and even create multiple “images” of your brand that lead to things to buy. You might change that Avatar daily to reflect new specials just to keep your followers actively engaged.
    I think you’re right about the colors being garish at any size — but it is sort of funny that those primary colors are all “web safe” and retro. SMILE!

  6. Thanks for the kudos on the new Avatar, Katha! I could change that Avatar every day to sell a new book or promote a new website!
    I’ve been on Facebook for a long while now — way back when you had to actually be in a university to get access — I just don’t quite “get it” in the way I do with LinkedIn.

  7. Facebook seems slightly kiddish to me David, LinkedIn is way more professional compared to that, but sometimes it is a good tool to connect with friends who use it!

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