An upgrade to the once funkily-working Gravatars was promptly released a few months after. I may have failed to write a follow-up post on it, but I did mention in the comments that the idea ought to be acquired by some big company like the big G.
Gravatar wasn’t scooped up by Google (Jaiku was, though), but by Automattic, the guys behind WordPress. Like the way Google acquired Feedburner and made its PRO features free, Automattic also turned Gravatar’s paid features free.
Avatars are everywhere. LinkedIn only recently offered this feature to put a “face” behind every professional profile. With Automattic now backing one of the first serious attempts to put more meaning into every webapp’s personalizing feature, I hope the state of avatars, particularly gravatars, moves forward. Are you using a gravatar yet?