Folks who follow me on Twitter (or those who follow a number of other folks) might have noticed something a little weird going on this weekend. Following a series of “retro” avatar pics that I posted, from my childhood and college (and early post-college) years, Alan Stevens, a fellow geek from Nashville, posted this fantastic portrait:

Captured in one picture is the amazing innocence and fun of youth. The ability to do something fun and cool with no worries about whether anyone else will laugh or disapprove. It’s the same spirit that allows children to sing in public at the top of their lungs, and otherwise express their joy and optimism about the world. In short, it is an awesome picture, and I said as much at the time.

Y. Alan Griver, meanwhile, saw Alan’s Kirk pic, and gave up the notion of posting his own retro pic:

After @alanstevens' pic, I decided not to play. It's a level of awsome I could never reach

But soon after figured out a way to play anyway:

@devhammer Figured out how I could at least tie @alanstevens in awesomeness... <g>

by borrowing Alan Stevens’ avatar for his own. He then suggested seeing if we could get other folks to play, so I jumped on board, too:

@yalangriver OK. I'm on board the "we're all Alan Stevens as Kirk" weekend train. Who else is coming?

We encouraged others to adopt this great pic, and post with the hashtag #AlanStevensAvatarWeekend.

By weekend’s end, more than 40 people on twitter had obliged, and at times, most of my feeds in TweetDeck were showing Alan Stevens’ awesome picture. As the weekend wound down, I even ended up creating some t-shirts people could buy (at cost) to commemorate the event. A big “thanks!” to all who participated.

While a couple of folks got a little grumpy about having their twitter clients invaded by an army of young Alan Stevens as Kirk clones, I think most people saw this as exactly what it was…a great way to celebrate the awesome openness and innocence of youth. I hope that it reminds us that we can still recapture some of that spirit, whether in the context of thinking outside the box at work, designing fun interfaces for our apps, or in our daily life at work or at home.

Just because we’re grownups doesn’t mean we can’t be awesome in large ways or small. I’m very grateful to Alan Stevens for the reminder, and for being a great sport about the whole thing. In fact, Alan did his own blog writeup with some additional visuals, as well as his perspective on the event.