Sunday, August 20, 2006

Screenshot as Self-Portrait

madcity screenshot
My brother Steven very kindly put together a computer system for me to use while I was on vacation over in Wisconsin. Above you'll see a screenshot. I find it fascinating that, if you know my brother, you can tell at a glance that that screenshot is him. Win98 restyled, Go game, carefully selected matching and contrasting colors, spare and informal-but-tidy layout... that is my brother.

This is something I've sometimes noticed with people. Not always, but often. Show me a screenshot from their computer, and often it comes across, somehow, somehow... as an abstract self-portrait. As an uncannily good "snapshot" of their personality. Not just decorated "in their own style," but a self-portrait of sorts. And it's far more than just the choice of wallpaper. It's the whole Gestalt of how their screen hangs together.

iowa screenshot
Here's a screenshot from my computer— it's changed very little, really, in the past couple of years. Once again, as you may well pick up if you happen to follow my blog, that screenshot is me. Retro, wrought iron fretwork, somewhat quirky and cryptic. The venerable command line. Technical whatsis readout along the lower right side of the screen. Yeah, the whole thing is technical, but in an almost Luddite fashion. If a steampunk Babbage engine had a screen, it might look like this.

A full-size version of my screenshot is here. For those who may be wondering, I'm running Mandriva Linux 2006, with the Fluxbox window manager— no, neither KDE nor GNOME, but Fluxbox. Further, deponent saith not.

And yes, I am the sort of person who wastes hours running Google image and AllTheWeb image searches for more and more cool or cryptic screenshots from out there. You'd be amazed how many of them come across like abstract "snapshots" of their users.



Anonymous Luc7y said...

Be careful in your supositions. Be very very careful. For example, my screen shot changes from day to day. Often from hour to hour.

I live in a house with four small children. Three with computer skills. One with better skills than mine.

He enjoys making it more ... exciting.

Monday, August 21, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Hmmmm, in that case it might be a family self-portrait... or more like a family slide show. :-)

Odd but true fact: in Linux I can use a movie or video clip as "wallpaper." Rather mindbending...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 5:53:00 PM  

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