The "half-serious" smile seen 'round the world

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"This problem caused some of us to suggest (only half seriously) that maybe it would be a good idea to explicitly mark posts that were not to be taken seriously. After all, when using text-based online communication, we lack the body language or tone-of-voice cues that convey this information when we talk in person or on the phone." -- Scott Fahlman

I think it's fitting that something as far-reaching and popular, but still so frivolous, as the electronic smiley should come from such humble beginnings.  Even though it has grown into a pop-culture monster, inspiring such heated responses as Stephenson's, the smiley's core is a simple expression.

As for Fahlman's basic ideas...I agree.   I consider the communication in which I use smiley's (like causal e-mails or even text messages) more like verbal conversation that written prose.  Like so many other issues of electronic communication, the place for smiley is determined by distinguishing between formal and informal situations of online/electronic communication and knowing the proper course of action in each.  So although I may use smiles in instances of casual exchange, I certainly don't use a smiley.  Sorry, buddy. :( 

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1 Comments

Andy Lonigro said:

I agree Aja. Do you think that the generational gap between Fahlman/Stevenson and us may have something to do with the argument agasint the smilies? I think our generation uses online communication in completely different ways than they did in the past, especially on usenet. We actually have converstaions on aim or e-mail or blogs, and send text message nearly all day long. These smilies are only in place to help us understand each other because it is a very informal setting and, like you said, conversational speech. We're not writing research papers with a ;-) in our thesis statement...

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