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MSN Image Display and Context

I’ve been using MSN Messenger for quite a while now, and am always changing the image that you can choose to display next to your conversation window when chatting with friends and family. But I’ve been thinking for a while that this image could be put to better use – to provide contextual information.

The image that you use with Messenger is held locally on the machine, and is not stored on a central server in the way that the buddy list is. This means that the image can be changed dependent of the computer being used. So when I use my laptop I have a different picture showing than when I use my computer at home. People keep asking me when I use messenger “are you at work or home?”. Generally when I’m at work I’ll use my laptop and my desktop at home, so by providing information in the display picture (such as a picture of me at work using my laptop, and using that on my laptop MSN messenger) a lot of information can potentially be shown, on top of the typical “I’m away from my computer”.

Perhaps future versions (or a plugin) might allow msn to detect the network on which it is working so if I’m using my laptop at work, on the work network, then the picture would show me at work, and if I’m on my home network then it’ll show me at home?


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