David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Rose By Other Name

October 2004:  By this point, there were two basic opinions of the WCAC/QuAAC corner.  It was either sophomoric drivel or the only thing worth reading in the virtual newsletter.  Perhaps they were one and the same. The Picard picture does not translate well to HTML.  Apologies.

WCAC/QuAAC Corner:   A  ----<---<-@  By Any Other Name...

David Fleming, division chair, English, communications and humanities

Gary Franchy, division chair, math


Dave: Hi, Gary. Several people have grabbed me and asked us to write an article on emoticons.

Gary: :-/

Dave: Exactly. . . .I'm never sure if they want us to promote emoticons or crush them.

Gary: :-O

Dave: You're not helping.

Gary: :-p

Dave: This is the point we need to make.  People who aren't comfortable with how they say things frequently fall back on emoticons or e-mail acronyms.

Gary: FWIW, I agree.

Dave: Not another symbol out of you!

Gary: :-X

Dave: E-mail is often about shortcuts and informality, but I would like to use this space to invite our readership to consider what is lost. 

A simple, sweet song by Bobby McFerrin is reduced to: 

Don't :-(  B :-)  Look at me, I M :-)

                                       Don't :-( B :-) Here I give U my phone #

                                       When U :-( call me, I make U :-)

It's not helped that Microsoft now includes some actual emoticons, as opposed to keyboard combinations, in their "symbols" option in Word, automatically converting the "sideways smileys" to "upright smileys".

Gary: Shouldn't that make them less of a pain in the neck to you? At least Word has the good sense to call them "miscellaneous dingbats."

Dave: Netiquette does require a higher level of politeness than regular communication, as we somehow have to make up for the lack of non-verbal cues.  Still, twenty or thirty years ago one never sent a letter littered with cute little smiley faces, unless you were a thirteen year old girl.

Gary: Don't forget about the little hearts to dot the "i"s!

Dave: Your insight frightens me.  Anyway, while emoticons and acronyms can soften the message, the writer should always consider the importance of the message and the mindset of the receiver. Your co-worker might appreciate the :-), but your dignified and image-conscious supervisor might not.  And it isn't worth losing the client you never met over a shortcut that only saved you two minutes. Even more importantly, communication suffers when it's rushed.  Consider what is sacrificed for speed.

Gary: A believable plot?   :-O

Dave: I am just going to start ignoring you. 

Gary: IMHO, I think you are making a big deal about this.

Dave: But there's another example.  How many times in having a normal conversation do you hear someone say, "in my humble opinion"?  Never!  However, that acronym will show up twenty times a day over e-mail from people who are afraid of sounding too forward. BTW, since when do you have a "humble opinion?" 

Gary: It's been know to happen on occasion. So, you are not in favor of using emoticons and e-mail acronyms?

Dave: I didn't say that.  Going back to making up for the lack of non-verbal cues, consider the difference between:

"I'll need that form by 5pm on Friday!"  and  "I'll need that form by 5pm on Friday!  : )"  

Gary: The second one has a "smiley!"

<< SMACK >>

Dave: Besides that!  This first one reads like it was written by a tyrant who is tired of the other person constantly turning in late work.

Gary: And the second?

Dave: It reads like it was written by a tyrant concerned about his/her image.  Just kidding, the addition of the "smiley" conveys to the receiver the importance of turning in the form while reassuring them that they are not being scolded.

Gary:  Couldn't it be both?

Dave: What do you mean?

Gary: "I'd really appreciate it if, for just this once, you could actually hand in your paperwork on time. And, I'm not a tyrant for scolding you, because that cute little 'smiley' I tacked onto the end absolves me of any ill will."

Dave: And I thought that I was cynical!

Gary: This opens up a whole new world for me! I could write this little "man-in-a-hurry-with-arms-pumping": O-Z-< 

and say with impunity, "I am a very busy and important person, and have no more time for this endless chain of emails about this inane topic?"

Dave: Right!

Gary: So who's responsible for all this? I WANT NAMES!

Dave: Don't raise your voice at me. On September 19, 1982, Scott Fahlman at Carnegie Mellon University first used the smiley, or emoticon, as a way of expressing sarcasm in an email. Even he's unsure whether or not he created a monster! (Smiley Lore)

Although emoticons started out as a means to show facial expression and tone of voice, they quickly evolved into small forms of art, in themselves. Some people even use them as signature pieces.

Gary: ? :S

Dave: You haven't seen any of those? Well, here are some examples. This is a cat:  >^..^<

Gary: Or this could be a cat: Q

Dave: That's just the letter "Q", Gary. . .

Gary: No! It's a cat, seen from behind.

Dave: And its head?

Gary: You can't see it because the cat's leaning down to eat.

Dave: I see. Well, you just keep working on it; I'm sure you'll catch on to symbol art. Here's a bull. See the little horns?...you have to view him sideways: 3:-o

Gary: I think you need a cow to go with your bull: 


      /;    ;\

  __  \\____//

 /{_\_/   `'\__

 \___   (o)  (o}

    \      :--'  

     \_    `__\




Dave:  Uh. . . yeah. . . I can see how that would pass as a cow.  Here's a sideways Homer Simpson: (_8^(|)

Gary: Nice, but what do you think about this:


              ___  _____    
            .'/,-Y"     "~-.  
            l.Y             ^.           
            /\               _\_     
           i            ___/"   "\ 
           |          /"   "\   o !   
           l         ]     o !__./   
            \ _  _    \.___./    "~\  
             X \/ \            ___./  
            ( \ ___.   _..--~~"   ~`-.  
             ` Z,--   /               \    
               \__.  (   /       ______) 
                 \   l  /-----~~" /      
                  Y   \          / 
                  |    "x______.^ 
                  |           \    
                  j            Y  


Dave It's OK.  Here's a nice Klingon I just made: >:-l

Gary: Pretty good. I'll try Captain Picard.































            tVtttiii||++++=,,.  . ,,,=+++++++|itiiiiiii||||itttVt

           tVVttiiiii||||++++==,. ..,.,+++=++iiiiiitttttVVXXRRXXV

        ..ttVVttitttii||i|||||+|+=,.    .,,,,==+iittVVVXRRMXRRRV

...'''ittitttttitVttttiiiiii|ii|++++=+=..... ,.,,||+itiVVXXVXV


        ,|itiiiVtVtiii||iiiiii|||||||++||||tt|VXXRX|  ....  ..     ' ' '.

          ,,i|ii||i||+|i|i|iiiiiiii||||ittRVVXRXRMX+, .  ...   .         ,

    .       .,+|++|||||ii|i|iiiitttVVttXVVXVXRRRRXt+. .....  . .       ,. .

  . .          ,,++|||||||i|iiitVVVXXXXVXXVXXRRRV+=,.....  ....  ..       ..

                  .,,++|||i|iittXXXXRMViRXXXXRVt+=, ..    ...... .        ..

                   ,XX+.=+++iitVVXXXRXVtXXVRRV++=,..... .,, .              .

            ....       +XX+|i,,||tXRRRXVXti|+++,,. .,,. . . .. .      . ....

  . .          .      ..  ..........++,,..,...,.... ..             .. ...


Dave: Nice, Gary, you're almost to the point that you won't need to explain your pictures anymore.







[Note: All ASC II Artwork that required a modicum of talent to create was retrieved from www.chris.com]