Emerging Tech

:-) is 25 and going strong

It's about putting emotions on text. Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman was the first to use keystrokes to put the "smiley face" in an e-mail. That started the deluge of emotion icons, popularly called "emoticons," that have added a great dimension to the basic fabric of communication.

It's about putting emotions on text. Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman was the first to use keystrokes to put the "smiley face" in an e-mail. That started the deluge of emotion icons, popularly called "emoticons," that have added a great dimension to the basic fabric of communication.

A quote from the article at CNN.com:

Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on September 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.

"I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)," wrote Fahlman. "Read it sideways."

And since that day, the emoticon has become an essential part of most messenger software, replacing the textual combinations to more appealing images that convey the emotion. The emoticon was a great breakthrough in conveying the general feeling behind "texted" communication.

Emoticons and short text acronyms are one of the defining parameters of the current tech generation, but these often invite the ire of language lovers (Wired).

Do you think that the gap between full-fledged dictionary language and the short-version alternatives will persist forever?

15 comments
rohangupta456
rohangupta456

I went to CMU. I know of no such professor. Albeit i went from 1999-2003 so i doubt he was still there

ganymede28211
ganymede28211

My gf is officially just under 3 hours older than the smiley!

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

general fault grand fart just a few thoughts

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Love that genuine funk. grossly fat gamey fart ghostly flatulence groovy frog glum Frank glitter fiend gridiron fox ... Thx!

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

or maybe Gratefully F**ked General Fascination Great Fire Gained Fame Gained Flavor Generally Forgotten or Grand Finale

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

goobers, fried garlic fritter guitar fret generally flaky gin flask gar filet garrulous funambulist ;)

pr.arun
pr.arun

Will Emoticons and short text ever replace the use of full fledged language?

etruss
etruss

Of course, if you have heard of the PLATO computer-based education system from the 60's and 70's you know that the smiley face and many other such symbols have been in use for much more than 25 years. http://www.platopeople.com/emoticons.html

DadsPad
DadsPad

the emoticons and other messaging shortcuts is of limited use. These shortcuts were to enhance feelings of email/messages from people with limited writing skills or just to make the messages shorter. I expect much better skills from a professional writer of any kind. To any young person that pays more attention to texting and emails than necessary writing skills will find themselves limited in advanced job placement.

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

At least, not until we all start communicating by thought waves. Strictly speaking, if Emoticons ever took the 'upper hand', we would all be regressing to an echelon of cave-dwellers and remember how difficult the interpretation of cave-paintings has been down the centuries! Whatever: HAPPY QUARTER CENTURY :-) - :x

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Emoticons enhance written text, they don't replace it. They help those of us with poor writing skills add an emotional context to our written words. Short text (acroynms, "leet speak", etc.) are only useful if all participants already know what they mean. They're fine in within a group where everyone is already "in the know". But using them in communications aimed at a broad general audience only results in confusion.

etruss
etruss

This is the point of the graphic "emoticon". It is best-used when it is a universal symbol that everyone just knows because they are human - look at the universal appeal of the printed and iconic smiley face. They help even those with good writing skills add emotional content to their words. The smiley face "emoticon" was originally often used to indicate that the statement was intended as sarcasm or as a joke - a difficult concept to communicate in writing but easier to communicate face-to-face. Acronynms are useless because there has to be a common connection of some kind to know what the acronymn means. There are only a small number of acronymns and they have all been overloaded with multiple meanings.

Editor's Picks