Sunday, December 14, 2008

Give Me A Smile(y)

If you do not know what an emoticon is, you should know about smiley.

Emoticon is a blend of two words, 'emotion' and 'icon'. It is a symbol, usually made up of text and punctuations meant to represent a state of emotion. It is also fondly known as 'smiley'.

Emoticons are commonly used in emails, web forums, instant messengers and online games. There are hundreds of widely known emoticons but the most common one has to be the "smiley face" :-) which is used in the context for humour, laughter, friendliness and occasionally sarcasm.

How could a simple sequence of characters embed so much emotion which, under normal circumstances, would require a fair bit of verbal and body languages to express? I am truly amazed by the power of emoticons !

Online communication takes on a newly evolved social etiquette which was not known before the Net era. For example, when chatting with people online, it is considered polite to type AFK (Away From Keyboard) just before you hop into the kitchen to fix your supper. This is to avoid any misunderstanding that you are ignoring them over a prolonged time.

When it comes to conveying your emotions, it gets even tougher if only plain text is used. There is always a thin line between say, an insult and a joke. In this aspect, emoticons come in handy to help set the boundary. Of course, nothing beats seeing actual facial expressions over the webcam, provided you do not mind seeing your chat-mate's laggy grins and frowns.

Take a look at how a simple emoticon sets the emotions apart. Surely you can tell the difference between these two expressions:

  • You are an idiot :-)
  • You are an idiot :-(
It is generally believed that the emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman whose original post was found in the Carnegie Mellon University computer bulletin board in 1982. He suggested using :-) and :-( to represent jokes and non-jokes.
After 26 years, emoticons now represent more than just facial expressions. They have become more sophisticated and you can now throw a cow 3:-o to your buddy or present a rose @>--> -- to show your love. T
he use of emoticon is also no longer confined to simple strokes of characters. They have 'grown up' and pop art, still or animated, is now ubiquitous.

In the early days, emoticons were thought to be reserved for the naive teens on Instant Messaging. Today, emoticons are appreciated by the entire online community and it is no longer seen as juvenile to use them. If applied appropriately, emoticons can help to avoid serious miscommunication for a variety of adult social interactions.

In a perfect world, we would have all the time in the world to compose emails and attempt to make it clear through our language that we are being cheerful and friendly. Considering that we are doing these things at the speed of light, it is absurd to expect anyone to tirelessly craft elaborate messages that carry the right tone of emotion.

Scott Fahlman probably did not realise what he had done when he came up with the first smiley. He later wrote: "I had no idea that I was starting something that would soon pollute all the world's communication channels."

He was quite right. Today, the power of emoticons has grown stronger and they have become so indispensable in any normal online communication. However, the use of these non-text symbols in written communication does attract a fair share of criticism.

Some users cannot construct a simple sentence without the help of an emoticon or two. They tend to pepper too many smileys in their online communication thinking that it might help to emphasise their mood and they think that, "Yeah :-D emoticons and smileys are cute ;) so no worries :D let's use more of them. ;-) "
If you are one of them, take note that, as with exclamation marks, overuse of the smiley is generally being frowned upon.

The days in which emoticons were considered as unacceptably casual as flip-flops at work are over. Today, they are seen as useful and perhaps even valuable, in a commercial sense.

Russian entrepreneur, Oleg Teterin said that the trademark for the ;-) emoticon has been granted to him by Russia's federal patent agency and he would chase firms using the symbol without permission.

He added that, "legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us." It is kind of amusing when he assured that it will not cost much to use his emoticons as it will 'only' be tens of thousands of dollars.

He did not stop at the wink as he also reminded that since other similar emoticons - :-) or ;) or :) - resemble the one he has trademarked, use of those symbols could also fall under his ownership.

I find it appropriate to express my skepticism at this juncture with an emoticon ... :-/

The idea of trademarking such emoticons appears to be ludicrous to me. It would be interesting to see which retards would pay that kind of money just to use a set of punctuation marks. Mr Teterin said he has no plan to track down individuals who use his emoticon. So, am I supposed to be thrilled that I can now 'wink' at at no cost?

Oh heck! Why not ? ;-)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: